Visual Abstractions

A series of blog posts created in the "design methodologies" module at ZHdK, teached by Dr. Joëlle Bitton.

This week’s class and literature was all about data and what to focus on for evaluating it but also about design thinking in terms of generating data in the design process.

I learned about the differences between big data - which can be summarised as quantitative data collected by machines informing us about what, where, when and how things happened - and thick data - which is collected by people and informs us about how and why things happened.

We also discussed about the difference of quantitative and qualitative data and I came to conclusion that qualitative data is kind of more subjective than quantitative data as it’s already getting interpreted in the process of generating the data, as it has to tell WHY things are happening the way they are. Quantitative data in contrary is all about WHAT happened and thus a more raw and unevaluated/unjudged form of data.

Neglecting all the privacy issues these days due to data collection, I think it’s the essence of every successful design and hence the reason why there is such a big interest in collecting as much data as possible. With AI getting stronger and more affordable, the power and influence of big companies will drastically increase due to the data collected which they can feed AI with. Of course big data could be used extremely well for improving health care and the treatment of diseases but on the other hand im totally alarmed by the fact that all this power gained by big data is lying in the hands of a few of the biggest companies of the world… I’m still wondering how we will deal with data in the future and how to protect the consumers.


Buxton, B. 2007. Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design. Morgan Kaufmann. 76-81.

Eggers William. D., Hamill R., Ali A. 2013. “Data as the new currency. Government’s role in facilitating the exchange”. In Deloitte Review. 13. 18-31.

Fisher, D., DeLine, R., Czerwinski, M., & Drucker, S. 2012. Interactions with big data analytics. In Interactions. 19(3). 50­-59.

Mackinlay, J. D. & Winslow, K. Designing Great Visualizations. Study for Tableau Software. (undated, retrieved November 2013).

Pavliscak, Pamela. 2015. Data-Informed Product Design. O’Reilly.

Additional Readings

Rogers, Y., Sharp, H. & Preece, J. 2002. “Identifying Needs and establishing Requirements”. In Interaction Design: Beyond Human­ Computer Interaction. John Wiley & Sons. 201-­211.

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