Data Art Wk 12-14: Data Critique

Final site: here

Final code: here

Eva and I wanted to continue thinking through the topic of garbage. We had started this project thinking we would continue building out our original designs from the previous Data & Publics assignment. But after hearing Genevieve’s lecture and seeing the examples of how people use their projects to critique an aspect of data culture, we decided to rethink our next steps.

From the lecture, I especially liked this Giorgia Lupi notion of ‘data is people.’ At the same time, I’ve also been thinking about Dr. Robin Nagle’s book ‘Picking Up’ and her experience working alongside the sanitation workers of NYC. From these two sources, we decided to use this opportunity to move beyond a general data visualization. Instead, we hoped to focus on the people. Who are the sanitation workers and what are their experiences?

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At one point we wanted to interview sanitation workers but after talking to Robin, we realized how tricky that could get. After doing some more research, we found that sanitation workers have shorter lifespans and more injuries due to the back-breaking and dangerous nature of the work. We then got data from the Department of Sanitation New York that shows the different types of injuries by year and boroughs.

We were also interested in using 311 complaint data from NYC’s Open Data API to show the complaints made about sanitation. By placing the two perspectives next to each other – from those who complain to those who clean up – we hope to show a larger picture of sanitation in the city. We hope that this piece serves as a reminder of the labor that often goes unnoticed but is crucial to making our daily lives run.

a.) Finding our datasets. Using these 2 datasets – 311 Complaints (the most recent ones) and the DSNY Sanitation Worker injuries (for the 5 boroughs and within Jan-Nov 2019) – we brainstormed possible forms this could take. We split up the tasks, so Eva worked on the 311 complaint data using text analysis. I would work on the sanitation worker injury data.

b.) Designing it. For designing the injury side, we wanted to capture the physicality and humanness of injuries. So, the boroughs would have textural marks that each indicate a different type of injury. We were inspired by the textural quality of this website:

First, was designing rough layouts of the pages.

Next, was illustrating the different type of injuries as marks and having the marks within the shape of that borough.

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Last part of the design process was combining the layout with the illustration.



c.) Coding it. The idea is that when you mouse over a textural mark, the amount of that type of injury would show. This was a lot of div work! It required a separate div for every single injury for all the boroughs. A lot of the code for this was about showing and hiding divs when you selected a specific borough.

d.) Final touches. Next was designing and coding all the other parts of the website – an intro page and a menu.


Eva’s steps with the 311 Complaints and more can be read: here

Thank you!

Biggest thank you to Eva for always being stellar to work with! Also, big thank you to Rashida for brainstorming with us and giving us the best ideas for this! Excited to continue collaborating! As always, thank you Genevieve for inspiring us to think more critically about how data is collected, visualized and used. The readings and conversations have helped us be more self-aware when working in this space.