D’Ignazio’s and Klein’s “Feminist Data Visualization” offers insight on many different fields of study or thought that can be used to make data more coherent; to paint a more accurate picture of everybody the data intended to include, particularly those from marginalized groups; and to gain a broader understanding of data given its situation in history or society at its time of publication or release. One of the fields I found most interesting was the field of feminist digital humanities, which, if my understanding is correct, seeks to marry gender analyses of various issues with apt representational techniques, rather than continue to use other modes of perception that may not be as appropriate or affective for its subject material. I was also intrigued with the field of feminist science and technology studies, which seek to share more of the perspectives of those who are normally marginalized in many works.

Though the reading mentions that the two have come to overlap with one another, I am still very much interested in learning if any of the design choices for either may come to overlap in future works, and if there are common questions or techniques used for addressing both matters. I believe that such approaches and principles are crucial for more accurately accounting for and displaying everyone involved in the visualization, and to better illustrate viewpoints that may stray from what is generally accepted.

The article “Leading Trump Census pick causes alarm”, Danny Vinik and Andrew Restuccia discuss Thomas Brunell, Trump’s current pick for deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau. Brunell, currently a professor at the University of Texas, would be the first director of the organization to have political ties before being chosen for the job. This would be a clear break from the tradition of choosing a nonbiased candidate for the position, and as Terri Ann Lowenthal remarks, “signals an effort by the administration to politicize the census.”
Politics aside, the looming possibility of Brunell’s appointment for this position is worrisome for the 2020 census, the data it has yet to collect and the “data” it could provide, and future iterations for the census if they follow Brunell’s potential trend.
From a data-anaytical standpoint, the decision is troubling because it is already casting a filter over the dataset before it can even be obtained, or perhaps more accurately, as it is being prepared to be gathered.
Census data is meant to be objective and gather more information about the current state of America’s demographics. Though the type and wording of the questions can lead to inaccuracies, it is the most reliable method the nation has of learning more about its citizens, and the information it provides can be used for many things, among them law-making and policy-building. Thus, ideally, one would want such information to remain unbiased. However the observers choose to interpret or manipulate the data after its publication should be left to individual discrepancy.
However, appointing Brunell in such a high position, especially considering his lack of experience in the necessary fields, risks subverting this. Brunell’s hire risks adding a bias to the census that could directly affect how much information Americans are willing to share about themselves, which therefore skews the dataset in a given direction and could lead to inaccuracies.
Preemptively deciding how you want to view a data set before you have a chance to even collect the data is not only dangerous, but could also affect the conclusions that can be drawn from such potentially inaccurate data. This is especially concerning, given the public nature of the census, and the methods in which it could be used for researchers and lawmakers alike.

Also, some Data Justice initiatives:



While looking into more about W. E. B Du Bois’s life, I stumbled upon an article written in 1969 in the Harvard Crimson, their student run newspaper. The article describes a controversy around a Memorial Park being built in Du Bois’s honor in his own home town. Reading this article from 1969, 6 years after Du Bois’s death, shows a really interested perspective on Du Bois’s “legacy” before it really had time to develop into a “legacy”.

Some people felt the park was necessary and was a great way to honor his “outstanding record in scholarship and social activism”. However, others were very thrown off by Du Bois’s political moves at the end of his life. Several organizations (like the American Legion and the Daughters of the Revolution which happen to also be typically right-winged organizations) believed Du Bois should not be honored because of his promotion of communism.

We briefly discussed in class how Du Bois joined the communist party, renounced his American citizenship, and moved to Ghana in the last two years of his life. Admittedly, these are pretty striking moves. We touched on these details, but naturally they weren’t the focus of most of our class discussions. It’s interesting to read about how these life choices changed people’s immediate perception of Du Bois. But now, decades later, these details are more of an afterthought.


W.E.B. DuBois uses “double-consciousness, the veil, and second-sight” to articulate the black American identity during the Jim Crow Era. Looking through the eyes of others allows one to recognize the inaccurate representations of blackness. Smith discusses the challenge that the early DuBois pictures poised because they had no caption. DuBois wrote, “We who are dark can see America in a way that white Americans cannot.” The veil he mentions is when white viewers refuse to see the image of whiteness. Du Bois’s portraits in Types of American Negroes enabled one to see the effects that visual processes had on identity and race. The large quantity of information he left inspired a lot of the research that’s been done on what message he wanted to tell. Even though he left behind loads of unmarked data, it has allowed for more questions to be formed. Georgia Negro Exhibit portrayed how being black in America during that time was. Dubois explores the struggle for freedom and the path to prejudice that African Americans have taken in the United States up until 1903. He acknowledges progress but has more hopes for the future. By explaining the inner struggle felt by blacks in America, DuBois offered a new perspective of fitting into the predominantly white culture.

In Psychology, priming, is an implicit memory effect in which exposure to a stimulus influences a response to a later stimulus. For example, if a person just watched a commercial that advertised quenching water along with the color blue, these things will most likely influence the person’s behavior later on, such as noticing the color blue more or becoming more thirsty throughout the day. The same technique is used in psychology experiments to better understand the unconscious (implicit) memory of previous human experiences, which commonly shape one’s behavior even when one is not aware of it. In one experiment, both white college students and black college students were assigned to take an exam that would test intelligence. The experiment was split into two groups with an even number of black and white college students, the difference in the groups were that the first group was primed with race by asking the students indicate what their race was before they took the exam, and the second group was not primed with race at all. The results came out to be what the researchers expected. For the group of white and black students that were primed with the indication of their race, the black students scored significantly lower than the white students, and in the group where the participants were not primed, the scores of both white and black students were the same. 

This is because when the black students were asked to indicate their race, they became aware of the negatives stereotypes racist whites associate them with, and therefore it influenced a weaker performance on the exam. Likewise, the white students scored higher when asked to indicate their race because of the positive stereotypes associated with them. The results of this experiment can in some way describe the data found in the Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys data we observed today in class. Upon first observation, one would assume economic factors would play the bigger part in the life outcome of black or white people, but the data showed that black boys (or African Americans in general) who were raised in rich households still had the same chance of falling to a lower economic status, than maintaining or moving to a higher economic status. This data clearly showed that racism still plays a huge part in life outcomes regardless of the economic status.

This data relates to the findings in the psychology experiment because of how Dubois mentions African Americans having two consciousness in America. Continual institutional racism played a huge part in the advancement of African Americans since slavery was abolished, however, with there being a significant decline in institutional racism since slavery was abolished, it is now more-so the consciousness that Africans Americans could have (seeing themselves through the lens of a possible racist) that plays a huge part in advancement (mentality); hence why the black college students scored lower in the psychology experiment when they were reminded of the negative stereotypes. This also relates to Scientific Racism. This is why representation in media matters. If African Americans are depicted in a positive light just as Dubois thoroughly proved with his data, the results found in the new economic data study would have had less worse results.


W.E.B. Dubois argued that Reconstruction was not a complete fail and that blacks played an important role in democratizing America. He challenged the dominant historiography of the time in his literary works such as Black Reconstruction (1935) and Black Folk Then and Now (1939). He focused on black social conditions for majority of his life in many different ways. He was a writer and an influencer that polarized black intellectual community. Some of his findings include Georgia’s incarceration issue with black males and how their laws were obviously discriminative. DuBois worked at Clark Atlanta University (which was Atlanta University then) and created a sociology program for the university’s curriculum. He emerged himself in his studies, focusing on philosophy, history, and law. His life improved the lives of blacks across the country and his contributions to educating all races goes unnoticed.

Feminist Data Visualization was a great read that outlined the theory of feminism and how it can be applied to information visualization. The authors Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein describes six principles of feminist data visualization from rethinking binaries to making labor visible (along with embracing pluralism, examining power and aspiring to empowerment, considering context and legitimizing embodiment and affect. Applying human theories to designs creates necessary dialogue about subjectivity, power and oppression. With feminist theory, all knowledge seems situated and through data visualization we can analyze how much influence diverse contexts can have in the production of displaying information and “clean” data. It reveals knowledge and supports a narrative. I also enjoyed the questions the Design Process and Output questions that dig deeper into the power of visualization.


This article discusses Einstein’s theory on visualizations. Hidalgo describes the revolution that has taken place within data visualization as virtual “telescopes” for big data allowing for us to see past the overflow. We are far beyond the ways of Galileo from the 17th century and how he understood and visualized large sets of data like astronomy. Now we have powerful, primitive tools that allow us to explore massive landscapes to the smallest atoms. Hidalgo stated, “The new graphic designer no longer creates visualizations by choosing a rigid collection of shapes, positions and colors but rather by choosing the rules needed for data to breathe form into geometric abstractions.” These innovations have allowed for a greater relationship between the reader and the visualization.

NYT visualization: “Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys

A quick explanation of Du Bois’s “veil” and “double consciousness” 

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Pretty much our final project (thanks, Julie!)