Friday, September 03, 2010

fun with data visualization!

The best resource for getting acquainted with the complicated terrain of transhumanism and its permutations, and the various oppositions to transhumanism or the idea of human enhancement technologies generally, is Dr. James Hughes' "Overview of Biopolitics" chart, a version of which is in his book Citizen Cyborg and a version of which is published on the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) website. It's so useful, in fact, that I wrote to get permission to include it as an illustration in my dissertation text, which he was gracious enough to grant.

I have some quibbles with certain categories, but any sort of typology will generate those sorts of questions--that's part of why typologies are useful, as they force you to think "why would I do this differently, here?" And for the last couple days, I've been experimenting with an increasingly adapted form of Dr. Hughes' original typology, through a very fun little website called Many Eyes, a data visualization site. Ya uploads yer data, and out comes a purty picture. Very very nice for someone like me who often feels visually challenged, but wants to incorporate visuals into her pedagogy as often as possible (as a text-based and auditory learner, I can respect that not everyone learns best just by reading and listening and scribing).

So here's an in-progress look at what I've been putting together: the JTB Matrix Chart version of the Hughes/IEET Overview of Biopolitics:

Overview of Biopolitics Matrix Chart (adapted)
If you go to the manyeyes site, you can interact with this chart--there are five variables represented by the color blocks (views on citizenship/personhood is shown here, but in the full chart you can click between views on personhood, humanism, accessibility, technological risk, and environment).

I'll be tinkering with this more in the weeks to come, and possibly constructing a separate biopolitics and religion typology (one of my quibbles with the Hughes/IEET typology is that all religious views are "religious right" type Christian literalism/conservatism, so that I don't quite fit the typology...but then again, I like floating between categories, existentially speaking...).

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