Individual Project Brief

What will your individual exploration of the issues in this class focus on?

My individual exploration will focus on an intersection of 2 themes- statistics versus personal stories, and the spreading of information and understanding. When trying to educate others about any given problem, there is a common issue that describing it through statistics doesn’t show the human side of the issue, and showing individual stories doesn’t describe the weight of the issue. I want to work to bridge that gap and connect these two methods. I also want to create a tool that allows others to share their stories and allow them to spread information and understanding.

What is it that you want to know?

I want to know how best to communicate every aspect of the issue we’re dealing with. Users should be well aware of both the devastation that each individual that has dealt with gun violence feels as well as the wide range of people that are affected in this way.

What is it that you want to do?

I want to create a tool that does 2 things- enables the community of Pittsburgh to share stories, connect as a community, and learn to work together to overcome hardships, and shows how issues can be visualized with the intersection of wide-scope statistics and individual stories.

What will your reference material be for this? (readings, designers, writers etc.)

I will be looking closely at some of the resources we’ve collected as a class including various visualizations about gun violence and gun control, in order to gain an understanding of what aspects of the visualization they did well and where they were lacking. Similarly, I will look for any kind of visual representation of individuals and their stories. I hope to find some kind of statistical record relating to gun violence in Pittsburgh, that I could use as my data for my project.

What will the material outcome be?

A website and community tool where users can submit their stories, along with pictures, and answers simple questions about their experiences with gun violence. The website will be built to automatically compile the user submitted data into a visualization of some kind, tying in the overall statistics and the individuals’ stories. Ideally, visualizations will be dynamic and able to be filtered in many different ways, to engage users and help them see the problem in different ways.

What is the scope of this investigation? How big will it be? How many components, words, minutes?

Hopefully, it will be a fully built and fully usable website, likely built using WordPress or some other content management system. Should time run short, I will dial back the scope of the project to be simply a subset of the full website to demonstrate the idea behind it, or in lieu of that, just visual mockups of what the concept entails.

What is your timeline for progress through this?

The first step will be research- looking into what other people have done for similar problems, and I will spend roughly one week on this. After that, I will iterate a breadth of ideas for my final product, and develop a certain amount of depth for each one before picking a final direction. I will spend 2-3 weeks on this. At this point, I will work in parallel on (1) refining, critiquing, and repeating my visual and interactive design, as well as (2) the actual web development needed to make the site. This will continue for the rest of the project until completion.

How will you know that you are making progress on this?

I will be able to recognize progress made on my project through sharing with others- whether it’s with classmates, teachers, friends, or citizens of Pittsburgh, I will try to get impressions of other people as I work to help keep my work on track.

How will you measure your success in realizing your ambition?

When the project is finished (or nearly finished, for additional feedback), I hope to share it with citizens of Pittsburgh, particularly individuals and communities that we will work with through the semester. At the very least, I will be hosting my finished website on my personal domain, although I hope to get a dedicated domain for it to allow citizens of Pittsburgh to explore its full use.