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

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Star Trek: TOS - Duty Roster

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Some excellent news about this piece. It has been enter into the Kantar Information Is Beautiful 2017 contest and has been selected to the long list.

Originally I began this by collecting information on Star Trek tropes from TV Tropes. I intended to capture who various tropes were used across the 80 original episodes. But unfortunately it devolved into the most convoluted mess imaginable. And the problems are two-fold. First is what I refer to as Fan-Edited data, the situation when you have many reasonably knowledgable fans all editing the wikia but not really communicating well with one another. This leads to strange offshoots, and conflicting data on different pages. This problem can also be found on the Memory Alpha site when dealing with unnamed crewman. The second is the difference between subjective and objective data. It's easy to count objective data points. subjective ones, on the other hand, can be interpreted differently by anyone who views them.

On many occasions, I would pull the tropes from an episode saying this or that trope was used. But when I went to that episode's individual trope page, that trop did exist. In addition, I found tropes on the individual pages that were nowhere to be found on the general page. But the worst thing was find the same situation on two different pages classed under two different tropes. Then I found that some items I considered tropes weren't even on the list(s). In the end, it became 100% unmanageable.

So I threw the idea out the window and started again.

I turned to one of the tropes detailing the revolving navigator's seat where there seemed to be a different person in the navigator's chair each episode. This was before Chekov got that position in season two. I though it might be interesting to find who worked what job in each episode. But as with the Buffy Body Count, there just wasn't a viable list available. Soon, that meant I needed to watch all 80 episodes and tally the information myself.

Though there were only 80 episodes compared to the 144 episodes of Buffy, it took more time and effort. I had to watch each episode with far more intensity in order to catch everything going on in the background then attempt to figure out who that person was doing that job. That meant watching the same episodes two or more times.

In the end I was satisfied with the results.

The chart was done using Excel and Illustrator.

For further questions regarding this, or other art, email me at dave.columbus -AT-

Buffy Body Count


When looking for a good data set, I looked toward the pop culture properties I loved. Some showed potential while others gave me pause as becoming a messy maze.

Then I ran across something on the web that sounded like the perfect idea, A counting of every death in the seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I found multiple lists counting those deaths but none of the lists matched. That meant there was only one thing to do. I needed to watch all seven seasons and count them myself. The watching part of it took a few months a few episodes a week. The actual data visualization took three weeks.

It was when I decided to place the data on the Spoke and Wheel chart type that it all came together. Not only was the data for the entire run it was fully accessible at a glance.

The chart was done using Excel and Illustrator.

Superhero Timeline

In The Works

This project started out with such high hopes and as I added more data, I loved the look and feel. But it uncovered a serious flaw when selecting data to graph. It a dataset isn't complete, you can never finish the project. That can also have an affect on the design. The spiral curling around the year 2014 wasn't my original design. It was implemented due to the extreme number of characters introduced in the 2014 movies. And this was in August which meant there would be no viable way to place all of 2014 characters on this chart.

I had no plans to resurrect his chart but someone who looked at it for the first time said, "Why don't you just use the original date they appeared in a comic book and the first date they made it into a live-action project.." When I reviewed the data it appears that would eliminate more than 70% of the nodes and that would once again, make the chart possible.

Look out for this one some time in 2018

The chart was done using Excel and Illustrator.

Doctor Who Social Network

In The Works

While at Carnegie Mellon University I had the pleasure of working with some excellent data scientists where I learned a skill set totally foreign to me. It wasn't a unique skill set but wasn't something people would normally think of when they think of university course.

I asked Dr. Jürgan Pfeffer for some assistance in putting together the data for my Doctor Who poster detailing all the actual meetings between the main characters for the 49 years the program had been in existence. I planned on pulling all the data from the IMBD web site collecting the cast lists. I figured it would have a week of some and I would have all the data. Jüran told me he could pull it all down with a little python program. I asked how long it would take and he said about an hour or two. that sounded much better than a week or two.

After the data was collected we created the first network display and needless to say it was a mess. There was nothing coherent that could be seen. Jürgan then said, lets remove any character which only has one connection as a single link can't be that important. With that the general shape came into being. I knew this was the right way to go but some of the single connections were important. it was easy to then add in those important links at the end.

In the end we added the title, legend, and different nodes detailing the various types of connections.