Ontological Data Visualization: Visualizing for the Ecological, Feminine, & Embodied

2020-06-24T21:09:02Z (GMT) by Cathryn Ploehn
A good data visualization opens up space for good
conversations. That is, a data visualization is a
starting point in a discussion of a shared understanding of the world, a way for us to know together. Consequently, our practices as data visualization designers—through collecting data and portraying them visually—create (or reinforce)
ways we can understand the world, and thus move
through it—it's ontological. Alarmingly, there is an emerging sense among new media artists and scholars that our practices of collecting and visualizing data can create rigid,
harmful understandings of the world; controlling
ontologies. In particular, D’Ignazio and Klein argue
in their book, Data Feminism, that our current practices of data science can lead to the “silencing, extraction, monetization, or invisibility” of people (or other living things) that the data represent (D’Ignazio & Klein, 2020). In response to this violence, they assert that we need to make visible those who are creating the data, and those who are
represented by the data. In other words, we need to
“bring back the bodies.”