Infopoetry is a portmanteau word that combines the words “information” and “poetry”. The main goal of an infopoetry is not only to display a dataset, but also to make people feel the data. In order to accomplish this, an infopoetry matches data visualization with poetry, so it’s a poetic way to display a dataset.
The first infopoetries were designed during the final synthesis studio held by DensityDesign Research Lab at Politecnico di Milano. During the course, students have to work with complex and controversial issues in order to design a visual interpretation of a phenomenon. The students are asked to use structured data, provide by the institutions as well as unstructured data that they will collect using digital methods. Finally, they are asked to produce a final artifact that explains in a meaningful way the highlights of their research.
It’s in this respect that that the infopoetry was first proposed as an individual assignment by the Research Lab during the Academic year 2013-2014. Over the years, the assignment has become a crucial aspect of the course. As Salvatore Zingale – one of the course's professors – explains, infopoetry is becoming a sort of bridge between art and data visualization design, allowing the students to express a topic of their choice in an artistic and emotional way.
The process behind an infopoetry
Due to the experimental nature of the assignment, there is no fixed methodology. However, it is possible to trace a creation process common to most of the infopoetries.
First, it is essential to choose a dataset. Over the years, students have experimented with all kinds of topics and dataset, with an inclination to more tragic content.
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Then, the identification of a strong metaphor is crucial for building an effective infopoetry. The metaphor puts aside the quantitative aspects of the data to engage the user with a more emotional and empathic way. Every medium can be used to convey the metaphor.