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Social Network

Data Storytelling | Network Visualization



This project was part of my research as a candidate of Masters' of Design at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.


" is not just about numbers and percentages, but can also be presented in its lateral truths that can reveal emotions, wants, needs and personality of the person it belongs to.'- Lupi, G., (2020)

In January 2021, I moved to Vancouver, Canada to pursue my Masters at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. It was the peak of the pandemic and all public places were shut including educational institutions. I had already completed the first 4-months of my program in India and met all of my course mates and instructors on zoom. During those online sessions, We would often talk about the fact that how crazy it would be to meet each other in-person for the first time. Being on zoom all of us looked as if we were of the same height and once in a while when someone shared their picture during a class presentation... it would come as a surprise of how tall or short someone was.


Fast-forward to May 2021, I was in the early stages of my research and just introducing myself to Data Visualization. The idea was to use data visualization as a tool to make large amounts of data comprehensible by the audience... in other other words finding out if visualizing data could be a better way to send across a message.


This got me thinking of designing an experiment of visualizing a network of the people from my cohort that I met for the first time  in-person after coming to Vancouver. Apart from the names of  these people, I was also documenting other data like:

1. Where did I first meet them? (campus/not on campus)

2. Were they students or Faculty/Staff?

3. Were they from my program?

4. Were they males or females?

5. Were they local or international?

Data Collection

To collect relevant data, I started documenting information from past messages and photos I clicked and I was tagged in. I already had the information of where people from my cohort belonged to, but referring to past messages and pictures helped me verify data points like location and program of my colleagues.

First Iteration

The very first iteration of the design was based on a simple timeline going from left to right. While this design was good to show the distribution of students and faculty members, it lacked certain aspects that would better show information related to the question at hand.


Second Iteration

For the second iteration of the design, I was looking for a more cohesive design that would bind all the data points together and would help me better in telling the story.

Working within the Gestalt Principles of Similarity, Proximity and Common Fate, I started to explore a radial design for the visualization which was based on one of my earlier projects in radial visualization.


Final Design

Working through various revisions the visual was designed as a network, which not only showed the who I met with in-person for the first time during my time in Vancouver, but also cohesively showed relative information like location, affiliation to program, dates, months and year.


My Learnings

Completing this project I found that a graphic isn't just the end result of simplification; it is the starting point to uncover simplifications and understanding their rationale. As Jacques Bertin said, 'graphics have evolved into powerful tools for processing information due to their manageability.'

Looking at this visualization, I see the intricate human connections that emerge, flowing in all directions—between individuals, among groups, and from the entire group to each individual. Each group has its popular and unpopular members, and sometimes an individual stands alone, isolated from the rest. These insights tell the story of the person this data belongs to and ties back to Giorgia Lupi's statement about data revealing emotions and personality of the person it belongs to.

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