Capstone: Visualizing the Pictures of the Year International (POYi) archives

It’s the beginning of my last semester at UM. I can hardly believe it. If all goes well (and why shouldn’t it?) I’ll graduate this May with an MFA in Interactive Media. Cool.

Last week, I officially proposed my capstone project. Working title: Reframing Photographs: Visualizing 75 years of the Pictures of the Year International archives. The goal is to explore and understand the archives. Then, create an interactive experience (most likely a website) that presents my findings and create a tool that allows people to explore the data on their own. Both will be true feats that I will pull off.

Need to Learn

To get started, I’ve created a rough project schedule and scheduled a meeting with our local data librarian tomorrow. I’m hoping he’ll be able to give me some insight on what options there might be for building the exploratory tool. My guess is that this will be a test of my javaScript skills. This semester I’m also learning more D3.js and I’m taking a WebGIS course. Most likely I’ll be using the skills I learn in both those classes as well as what I learn on my own for this project. R will definitely come in handy as well.

The data

What makes this data interesting so far is that there is a mix of images and text, a mix of black and white and color images and that in some places data is missing. I’m still working my way through it but some years have more holes than others. Figuring out how to present the missing data will be interesting.


These are some of the questions I’ve come up with and I got some criticism that these questions are too obvious. I’m not sure I agree with that but it is good to consider.

Next Steps

I’m still cleaning up the data but soon I’ll start analyzing the data using R and sketching using Flourish, RawGraphs, Data Illustrator or Illustrator. Wish me luck!

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