Collaborative Cave Drawings of Social Interactions: Simple Visualizations of Complex Phenomena

Speakers: Shiva Ayyadurai and Andrea Frank, MIT. Moderator: Nick Seaver, MIT. Abstract: Many phenomena of global concern such as climate change, health and nutrition, globalization are complex systems with many inter-related components. In the modern world of rapid information delivery and sound bytes, how can the public understand the complexity and inter-relationships? This workshop explores an experimental collaborative effort to use multiple visualization methods to communicate such complexity. The workshop emerged out of an ongoing collaborative effort by two MIT faculty lecturers, Shiva Ayyadurai and Andrea Frank. Ayyadurai has an extensive background in systems theory and scientific visualization and Frank is an accomplished artist whose work has focused on investigating the history, memory and psychology of social issues. Both investigators, out of a desire to find novel and simple methods for communicating complex systems of social phenomena began exploring various visual models. This workshop will begin by exploring a multi-dimensional visual representation of a specific phenomenon of modern existence. The methods of visual representation will be an amalgam of systems modeling, psychological process drawings, and scientific visualization of complex multi-parameter data. There are many challenges to visually representing such social phenomena. The presenters will share the challenges they encountered in representing one of the themes explored, which involves the overlap of capital flow and indoctrination relative to the health care and media systems. Attendees will then be given an opportunity to explore a similar social phenomena and develop their own visual representations. An interactive session will be encouraged to share their challenges. A web site, post-workshop, will display the outcomes of the workshop, including the attendees visual examples.

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