The Short Synopsis

Pop Culture Data Artist, Infographics, Network Design Art, Technical Writing...

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Entries in star trek (1)

Tuesday
May032016

Duty Roster Thoughts

Collecting data for the Star Trek Duty Roster poster taught me valuable lessons I vow never to repeat with future projects.

The chart was to be the prominent tropes of Star Trek taken from tvtropes.org. It's a great site and an evil rabbit hole to get lost in. Many tropes are cut-and-dried like the number of times Spock said interesting or fascinating or counting the number of times the phasers were fired and the color of the beam. Those things were easy to gather. They are objective data. The problem arose with the subjective tropes. Subjective is defined as "based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions." It makes for interesting discussions but has no place in data collection. An example of a subject trope is how many women did Kirk have sex with? Exploring this subject led me to many Star Trek forums containing many discussions and never did I find a set answer.

On one episode page I could find an event described as trope A. On a different episode page I could find that same situation described as trope B. On a third episode page, that situation isn't mentioned at all. It was like a crazy dog chasing its tail. I couldn't nail down the information. I finally conceded it was a fool's errand and the data set would never come to fruition.

When I had been working on this for over a month with no end in sight, I realized there's no end to this project. I needed to find a new direction. I didn't want all that work to go to waste so I salvaged what I could by filtering the objective data only. One of most notable sets of data was crew position. That sounded like a good direction.

I took another run through the episodes looking for people performing each job. Much easier than trying to observe every trope they might have been doing. My 20-20 hindsight wishes I had thought of this months ago.

I figured I was going to use the spoke-and-wheel style again. It works well for episodic TV. The problem I ran into with Star Trek that I didn't with Buffy was the number of unique icons I needed. It became a struggle with too much/too little information. I eventually settled on giving the regular cast, the regular extras, and the main guest crew unique icons with everyone else getting a plain colored circle.

I decided to include information regard the uniforms (ripped shirts and shirtless scenes) and odd-job performed by the crew (bridge waitress, bartender, and fire brigade). To round it out I complied a list of the crew who went the the Navigator's revolving chair. There certainly were a lot of people in that position.

There was the usual fighting with Illustrator as there always is. It does a fine job but it's just so finicky. But on each project I usually end up learning another technique that I need.

When the first print arrived at the house I found another problem. Some of the radials I was using to information were too small. I couldn't tell from the computer screen but it was verified on the printout. There were quite a few changes and I needed help. I sent a copy to Jürgen in Germany and we worked on it for a week tweaking both the icons and ways to denote information.

After we finished I did another proofread and sent it along. As I said, I've learned my lesson about working with subjective data. Never again...