Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Introducing Visualizations

My email exchange with Erik about visualizations (posted here) got me thinking about how we introduce text visualizations to authors.

My thought was that it might "explain" the visualization better if we started with a viz of a known play, and discussed what the viz represented, and then presented the viz of the writer's play to her. At that point we might ask if there was anything that was surprising to the writer. The idea is to break past the habitual thinking we all fall into when we are familiar with a piece, and try to see it with new eyes.

The approach might work just as well with a visualization of a play the writer doesn't know at all. That way, there are no pre-conceptions whatsoever.

Erik had this to say:
I think starting with a "known" play and showing the writer that, then moving to their play, is wise. But what play to start? Not Hamlet -- too antique in style to be of value in this contxt. Maybe Death of A Salesman? Works better if it's a play the young writer is likely to know, right? But can one find a digitized copy of a contemporary play the novice writer is likely to know already? Perhaps a Chekhov or Ibsen play, much as I hate them both. You could certainly use a play the writer doesn't know but the impact is greater if it is done on a mutual touchstone I think.