#UCSIA15 Opening Eyes a Little Wider?


#UCSIA15 is a free, open, online course that explores informatics and analytics in sport contexts.

It starts on 23 February and will run for a month as a course.

Thereafter the resources will remain available … openly.

One of the themes in the course is Audiences and Messages. My hope is that this theme will enable us to discuss how we craft stories and share them.
Wolfgang Iser (1976) suggests that when we produce a story to share we should think carefully about how we construct the story and imagine the recipients of the story. He notes that any story has “a network of response-inviting structures” that enable the reader or the listener “to grasp the text”.

In the introduction to their e-book on Data and Design (2014), Trina Chiasson and her colleagues at Infoactive note Maria Popova’s (2009) description of data visualisation at “the intersection of art and algorithm”. Maria adds:

Ultimately, data visualization is more than complex software or the prettying up of spreadsheets. It’s not innovation for the sake of innovation. It’s about the most ancient of social rituals: storytelling. It’s about telling the story locked in the data differently, more engagingly, in a way that draws us in, makes our eyes open a little wider and our jaw drop ever so slightly. And as we process it, it can sometimes change our perspective altogether.

I was thinking about the connection between Wolfgang’s “network of response-inviting structures” and Maria’s jaw-dropping whilst looking at some of Neil Charles’ recent work.

I think his three-part discussion of How to Do Football in Analysis in Tableau is outstanding and I hope it will be an important resource for #UCSIA15.

What stopped me in my tracks was Neil’s visualisation of the Football Analyst network.

Multicoloured+-+smallerSource: Neil Charles, Football analyst network vis: New and improved! (29 January 2015, accessed 12 February 2015)

Neil’s interactive version of the map can be found here.

The impact on me was similar to my first sighting of the Republic of Letters project.

In Maria’s terms, the creativity that produced the visualisation did draw me in, opened my eyes a little wider but my jaw dropped more than ‘ever so slightly’.

I liked the transparency of Neil’s achknowledgements at the end of the post:

Thanks go to…

@balbezit for the tips, Gephi for a brilliant bit of visualisation software and to Scott Hale for his fantastic Sigma.js exporter that was used to build the interactive vis.

A few months ago, I suggested that #UCSIA15 aspires to be a modest open online course rather than a massive open online course.

As I have searched for resources to support the course, I do think modesty and humility is the best way to frame the course.

There are wonderful resources available in the public internet.

I am hopeful that the connectivist approach we are bringing to the course will allow us to share these resources and expand our knowledge of them and their remarkable creators.

Photo Credit

Cooperation Game (David McSpadden, CC BY 2.0)

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