In Neil Postman's (1985) "Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business", Postman points out that the nature of what we consider reliable data sources has changed over time. Once it was that “feeling is believing” then “saying is believing” then “seeing is believing” then “reading is believing” then “deducing is believing” and now “counting is believing.” Postman argues that it is the media driven culture that has reduced our concept of what is believable data to that which can be counted, that which can be objectified and abstracted. He also points out that when a culture's predominant media changes, where people look for truth also also changes.

In Understanding Media, Marshal McLuhan tells us that "first we shape our tools then our tools shape us." He also observes that when a culture moves from one type of dominant media to another it changes how truth is perceived as well as how we have control over it. It is the nature of the medium that defines what we believe. When we shift from one medium to another the rhetorical devices we use change as well.

Under this paradigm we shift from making decisions based on data to collecting data to support our beliefs as with this news story from National Public Radio on Wednesday, December 5, 2012.





  • "Money is tight at most public schools, and staff here know they must prove the need for this place. So they are gathering data about these nontraditional students. When students enter the door, they swipe their ID cards. That swipe creates a record, which helps the center justify more support and more space from the university."


Predominant Media
Example Culture
Dominant Truth Source
Core Media Features
Oral Dialog/Verbal Language
Ancient Greece
deducing is believing
Participatory/experiential
Ephemeral
Written Word
Medieval Europe
hearing & seeing is believing
Reserved for Privileged Few
Archival
abstraction
Printed Word
U.S 1776-1900
deducing is believing
Participatory
repetition
pervasive
Electronic Media (Radio, TV)
U.S 1920-1990
feeling is believing & trust in authority
Passive Participation
Clear difference between audience and producer
repetition
pervasive
Digital Media
Present Day Global
counting is believing
numbers (binary, hexadecimal, etc.)
massively participatory
lots of data generation

In Medieval times before the advent of the printing press most people relied on images in illustration, illuminated manuscript, and stained glass to visualize what is contained in written text. The illiterate and to those without access to copies of the source text had to rely on these visual interpretations to ascertain the truth. This is very similar to today's use of data visualization tools and infographics to help those who either are not good with numbers or who don't have access to the raw data to ascertain the truth. Each medium has a different set of affordances and range of expression. Information gained from an image contains information not gained from text or numbers. There are also limits to what visual representation can tell us.

bourges_glass07.jpg
external image OilPricePrediction.jpg
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external image CoB2012-02_CoB_Student_Demographics-HE-1200.png
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external image wage_changeWEB.jpg









Social Media Data Visualization Tools:

  • external image visually.png- create infographics from your dataexternal image desktopIcon.png
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  • external image loJc1Vp6um1tICeKEEaB2yNrAVb_VelJrBqdjPa4BIdN4O24_tF7y-XctOxge5HgSkGTcp3lSHixv4qLITao6hMcA52yC3y2r0CNxhLTlcTwCJJe6HY- See who is retweeting your tweetsexternal image iOS%20icon.pngexternal image desktopIcon.png
  • external image A9Ue_p4QwKgil1FVaryzSJo6feGYDtnI6Uq-6pjiz02niSeTKxZXQf6Xbtb8fJ1BtvLck6-R7tTuPlvCET7wIE5U5JM7jBwNYlzAFXIYTV3G-64Rd5g- List of tools that let you send DM to multiple people, follow multiple users with one click, and analyze followers.external image iOS%20icon.pngexternal image desktopIcon.png
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  • external image VTvnrEpHamAYL8yDnS9wZEvToQP4LJi6o5tdiAG2APLFy0nSwZMzIhP5-nJTjyKVtDU4IPaR9i0dlJjV2kbOM4W_oZ4ZRgsgs9YcpsUfAw9QoVIMDYA- Track how many clicks the links you share on Twitter receiveexternal image desktopIcon.png
  • external image Y0VC4XxzJo_cBTLQxiHETK2jok3MOUFvKMzrVmfK05EhwJb_UFnCW3Ov-qpGyT7COQP22nkUExfxp8vthzQZJCznrxGuYZIIXW7cPuTvffXGPxQ-I78 - See how many people have seen your last 50 tweetsexternal image iOS%20icon.pngexternal image desktopIcon.png
  • external image 3rmNZFTrKkfpmkJl07TZYN8EH3FN2HPvC9QH1NspdVsfmbxld65O0XHa34OO4Euo9ngaxgbRSBL5L7nYPidJtcD3Uxk2sElGXLy114A_Bz7t5QFqirM - Analyzes which of your tweets have been most popular.external image iOS%20icon.pngexternal image desktopIcon.png
  • external image managefilter.png - Tool for managing who you follow on Twitter.external image desktopIcon.png
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  • external image lOjyrPWIo1I3GKs5Td02HJmWvDM5RX40WsoTyGmne2Z8mjq0fytY6gUNEDwwTTuMIXLTQjSTRWOoLmnczHfWiRS5uFWZXmGr7EGA2VurvlbMgaBZjc0- map where the people you are following are tweeting fromexternal image desktopIcon.png
  • external image TBqfLO__jIm_P3fyVVwElTSTZxZ2-QEOuLsfKjLhAFwNFyiQLknvKLIcQjeSu-M11dKGTEl83G8U8SUg4b6LoK-DeXdqxgoVo9ix5vRxycs1u3w9dEA- Twitter visualization tool that lets you see how people on Twitter are connectedexternal image desktopIcon.png
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  • external image 1z0rIVRGU-08IFCX-fsQejBuVUDdu6pVVCLZn6oaehXFiybk7FO34f6UVR7YqjoAMJ7LO-f2Y5oHcGefGztCMxnX10141YEXi_b3B_5rUDRoZuhC03M- Real fun visualization of your Twitter followers. See yourself lead a parade.external image desktopIcon.png
  • external image 6DwfLx9ol2mpqr5jP-OvvEQuFavQrIqJWNYJsGsjqAyUZVbwjnpq1fvH_kzjE_FycntO0dtEM5AoAzwUkn-8hmfHYeoZ8LsnlEQGyk7ZQoM-QR2HrqU- This tool displays one tweet at a time from a search stream really big on your screen.external image iOS%20icon.pngexternal image desktopIcon.png
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  • external image twitdrip.png - Treats your tweets like rain drops.external image desktopIcon.png