Plotting Intensities

I first caught word over at

Junk Charts
this infographical rendering
(in the

Sunday Times
) of a week of concert-going. The spread includes profound
thoughts, counts of the people on stage, quality arcs of each show, more
profound thoughts, entertaining phrases, profound guests on stage, and best
parts, all convoluted into charts, graphs, stacked bars, and bubbles. When
I first saw the quality arcs, I thought it would be cool to throw something like
that together to suggest rising and falling intensities over the course of a
graduate program of study. But heck, it took me four days to get around to
posting on these few pieces that churned through the aggregator on Sunday, so
it’ll be a few more days before I get around to drawing up quality arcs of my

Sunday’s infographucopia finally led me back around to
emo+beer, a blog I feel like I
should’ve known about before now as it plays at the crossroads of music, affect,
experience, and data visualization. Earl Boykins, the blog’s proprietor,
went at the NYT article, too, coding it with a four-part text analysis, too, and

this entry
, which shows the NYT article not as text, but as a horizontal bar
chart. At the bottom, the colors are realigned so that they amplify the
densities of each of the four categories for coding. Aligned like a row of

I am immediately attracted to the pedagogical possibilities,
reminded of the practices I already use sometimes with highlighting to emphasize
features that, glanced across an entire document, suggest patterns. But in
this case, everything folds into the chart. What can we say of this type of
translation? Its relationship to text sense (whether a NYT article, song
lyrics, a journal article, or other writing of one’s own)? Its resemblance to
streaks of unevenly applied paint? What of shape grammars?
In/coherence? Im/balance? Variety?

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