Week4: Feminist data

What would feminist data visualization look like?

At first, I was kind of unsure why gender is linked to data. I agreed on that there are many missing data from mapping, and we should restore those data for more accuracy in a more fair and objective way.  But how should we verify and testify those data if they are incorrect? Should we be criticising the researcher or designer? I am not trying to ignore the feminism part of the mapping, it would just that science and data are very neutralized and I am afraid that having gender would make it too personal?

And then I read another article from the same author: Missing Women, blank maps, and data voids. Then I realized that we should reflect the inequality on the maps which are mostly invisible, we should give more perspectives on the map by different gender roles to make the map more precise and valid data. Creating feminist data visualization would feel like archaeology because we would be restoring the data that was not public, and we may found another stunning perspective on the data which contains the hidden flaw.

Maps could still hold perspectives by not being bias. Gendered information is not being biased, it is just another factor that should be included to have a richer content. I then see how powerless women were by omitting their perspectives and opinion from the map. Omitting data could also extend to ethnicity that may prove the data could be less valid than we thought.

Representation and the Necessity of Interpretation

By reading this article”Representation and the Necessity of Interpretation” by Laura Kurgan, I realized how political and powerful a map could be. The Google map holds tons of privacy information and tracks our information day-to-day and they are constantly being exposed to US government and other corporations, and our minds are being controlled them like we are being trapped in the “Truman Show”.

It reminds me of the map we would use for war. I was shocked that map is indeed the power, even though it was covered up by neutralization. In ancient Chinese history, maps are a very important weapon to track and understand their situation in war, I guess it’s the same for any war, but there’s a famous strategist in China that utilizes his knowledge of mapping to distinguish the future of the Three Kingdoms. The map determines not only how to fight the war, also knowing the political issues from the enemy and to take control remotely.


(I used to play this game called Three Kingdoms, you need maps anytime in the game to know if you are winning or losing the war. )


To put it another way, there is no such thing as raw data. Data are always translated such that they might be presented. The images, lists, graphs, and maps that represent those data are all interpretations. And there is no such thing as neutral data. Data are always collected for specific purppose, by a combination of people, technology, money, commerce, and government. The phrase “data visualization,” in that sense, is a bit redundant: data are already a visualization.

The above quotes are my favorite in the article. It almost summarized what map actually is. The map now is sold and para-empirical, gaining transparency but at the same time losing privacy. The map holds a sense of the reality, may or may not record what had happened, and it could be false information that controls people’s mind, the perspectives of the world. This creates the fundamental meaning of what map we should be making. How do we use the map to gain inequality and rights? In my final project, I might be in between how environment/government affects our mental health or restoring the missing Asian-American immigrant history.

Reference: https://github.com/MimiOnuoha/Impossible-Maps/blob/master/readings/kurgan2.pdf 

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