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The Visualisation of Spatial Social Structure (Wiley Series in Computational and Quantitative Social Science) [Kindle Edition]

Danny Dorling
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

How do you draw a map of 100,000 places, of more than a million flows of people, of changes over time and space, of different kinds of spaces, surfaces and volumes, from human travel time to landscapes of hopes, fears, migration, manufacturing and mortality? How do you turn the millions of numbers concerning some of the most important moments of our lives into images that allow us to appreciate the aggregate while still remembering the detail?

The visualization of spatial social structure means, literally, making visible the geographical patterns to the way our lives have come to be socially organised, seeing the geography in society. To a statistical readership visualization implies using data. More widely defined it implies freeing our imaginations.

The Visualization of Spatial Social Structure introduces the reader to new ways of thinking about how to look at social statistics, particularly those about people in places. The author presents a unique combination of statistical focus and understanding of social structures and innovations in visualization, describing the rationale for, and development of, a new way of visualizing information in geographical research. These methods are illustrated through extensive full colour graphics; revealing mistakes, techniques and discoveries which present a picture of a changing political and social geography. More complex aspects on the surface of social landscapes are revealed with sculptured symbols allowing us to see the relationships between the wood and the trees of social structure. Today's software can be so flexible that these techniques can now be emulated without coding.

This book centres on a particular place and time; 1980s Britain, and a particular set of records; routine social statistics. A great deal of information about the 80s' social geography of Britain is contained within databases such as the population censuses, surveys and administrative data. Following the release of the 2011 census, now is a good time to look back at the past to introduce many new visualization techniques that could be used by future researchers.


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Review

One of the more enjoyable aspects of this book is thatevery section begins with an interesting quote from the literature,which adds up to 60+ quotes that readers may wish to consult forfuture reference. A final, light–hearted observation: each chapteris divided into exactly seven sections! In some cultures, thiswould be interpreted as an attempt to curry favor with fate.Readers will have to decide whether Dorling played a lucky hand inturning his doctoral dissertation into a book, two decadeson.   (Journal of Regional Science, 1 October2013)

From the Back Cover

How do you draw a map of 100,000 places, of more than a million flows of people, of changes over time and space, of different kinds of spaces, surfaces and volumes, from human travel time to landscapes of hopes, fears, migration, manufacturing and mortality? How do you turn the millions of numbers concerning some of the most important moments of our lives into images that allow us to appreciate the aggregate while still remembering the detail?

The visualization of spatial social structure means, literally, making visible the geographical patterns to the way our lives have come to be socially organised, seeing the geography in society. To a statistical readership visualization implies using data. More widely defined it implies freeing our imaginations.

The Visualization of Spatial Social Structure introduces the reader to new ways of thinking about how to look at social statistics, particularly those about people in places. The author presents a unique combination of statistical focus and understanding of social structures and innovations in visualization, describing the rationale for, and development of, a new way of visualizing information in geographical research. These methods are illustrated through extensive full colour graphics; revealing mistakes, techniques and discoveries which present a picture of a changing political and social geography. More complex aspects on the surface of social landscapes are revealed with sculptured symbols allowing us to see the relationships between the wood and the trees of social structure. Today′s software can be so flexible that these techniques can now be emulated without coding.

This book centres on a particular place and time; 1980s Britain, and a particular set of records; routine social statistics. A great deal of information about the 80s′ social geography of Britain is contained within databases such as the population censuses, surveys and administrative data. Following the release of the 2011 census, now is a good time to look back at the past to introduce many new visualization techniques that could be used by future researchers.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 20208 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (28 Jun. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008GI0JAY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,254,958 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Danny Dorling has lived all his life in England. To try to counter his myopic world view, in 2006, Danny started working with a group of researchers on a project to remap the world (www.worldmapper.org). He has published with many colleagues more than a dozen books on issues related to social inequalities in Britain and several hundred journal papers. Much of this work is available open access (see www.dannydorling.org). His work concerns issues of housing, health, employment, education and poverty. Before a career in academia Danny was employed as a play-worker in children's play-schemes where the underlying rationale was that playing is learning for living. He tries not to forget this. He is an Academician of the Academy of the Learned Societies in the Social Sciences and, in 2008, became Honorary President of the Society of Cartographers. In 2011 he became a patron of the charity Roadpeace.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing but colourful 22 Oct. 2012
By  VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First, can I say that if you are one of those people who are attracted or repelled by the smell of a book, don't buy this one! The high gloss paper used throughout is pungent, and not in a pleasant way. Think fish!

Danny works in the University I used to teach in, though I have never met him. He has achieved some celebrity by using software to distort maps so that areas of the map reflect, say, population density rather than actual area. We have all seen these effects now, where certain continents appear inordinately large or small because of their population, economic output, etc.

Although this works in a way, other graphical methods are far more effective. Thus, using the third dimension, the way a graph usually does, gives a far better impression of how sparsely populated or economically active a region is. Indeed, that is why graphs were invented!

One problem I find with Danny's method is that, for instance, he will map something like population density on UK counties and we see a bulge around the South East. We can tell this because his method does not distort the coastline too much. However, if you want to see what is happening in Sheffield, say, or Leicester, it is pretty impossible to find them. The guiding patterns of county shapes, and coastline references we use to find a place are entirely gone!

As for the more complex methods used later, where several parameters are plotted by using facial expressions, for example, they add nothing to the visualization, I find.

So, a pretty coffee table book, but keep your nose out of it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A seminal work 27 Oct. 2012
By P. M. Fernandez VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The eighties onwards saw an explosion in information and computing power which has only accelerated in the years since. This offered new opportunities for people to attempt to understand this information at a high level, and new challenges to computer scientists and social scientists in the way in which it could be presented.

This book, largely written at the time, starts to address the visualisation of complex social data, particularly that with a geographical dimension. It is still the case that most information is presented "flat" - on a two dimensional surface, whether real or virtual - and even when it can be presented in a "non-flat" form (perhaps with controls to allow a 3-D image to be rotated, it doesn't turn out to be the best. The writer wrestled with the issue of how to present data that was in effect four or five-dimensional in such a way that people looking at it would be able to gain a rapid sense of it.

The book is fully illustrated, not just with sample datasets, but looking at how data changes over time. The social scientist examining the data not only sees how the information is presented, but understands how that presentation would relate to his analysis. It is interesting to see how these "intuitive" presentations had first to be conceived of themselves.

These approaches to visualisation of information provide the framework of much of the complex data presentation we see today - think, for example, of the barrage of graphics that we are shown on election nights, for example. It's an important and defining work in the context of computational social science. If I have a quibble with it as a book, it is that little attempt has been made to present "new" information - thus, whilst the graphics are effective, they lose some of the relevance and immediacy they had when the book was in its early editions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Jo Bennie VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a study of social data of Thatcherite Britain but using visualisation tools. Humans are visual creatures and it is only a minority of us that see patterns in pages of numbers. The ability to transform those numbers into graphic format reveals the patterns contained and in full colour Dorling does this to stunning effect. His study shows how people voted, what their standard of living was and how the population moved from area to area in rich detail but never losing sight of the integrity of the data.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dorling's PhD thesis revisited 15 Oct. 2012
By Dr. Paul Ell HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book features many of the visualisations related to Dorning's late 1980s PhD thesis. Virtually all data mapped are from the 1980s and the hardware used to create the visualisations is drawn from the same period. While it is interesting to reflect on the software and hardware available at the time, things have of course moved on. For example there are only a couple of indexed references to Geographical Information Systems. Taken for what it is the book is worthwhile and will certainly inspire geographers and the interested public to visualise data in interesting ways. It doesn't quite fit with the Wiley Computational and Quantitative Social Science series however as its content has aged somewhat over the last two decades and more. Dorling's writing is as strong as ever though and is particularly impressive if closely based on his PhD manuscript.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By M. Bhangal TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm a web application developer, working in online advertising. Unlike other forms of advertising, we have direct and specific user feedback: we know how successful any campaign is right down to the exact number of people who viewed the ad, how long they interacted with it, whether they actually bought the product (and how many weeks after seeing the ad they made the purchase) and even whether they saw the ad at all (i.e.it may have loaded but stayed off-screen because the user never scrolled far enough). That's a lot of data: we get precise data from approximately one in 6 of all internet users.

Displaying that data in a form the client can visualise is very important: reporting the data from an ad campaign is almost as important as the campaign itself.
Which is where this book comes in. It takes a slice of time where all the data is now in the public domain (UK in the Thatcher years:1979-1990) and visualises all basic metrics (population, migration, house prices, changes in industry and medicine, politics, etc) to graphically build up a picture of the UK during this period.

The big change between then and now in terms of data visualisation is that in 1980 they could only average data. For example, if you wanted to analyse house prices in London, you split the region into areas and took averages. With modern computing, you no longer have to take that average. Instead, you can present a map where each pixel represents an actual sale. No data is lost, and the level of granularity you want to look at can be controlled by something as simple as the scroll bars and zoom in/out key shortcuts on your browser.
Read more ›
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