Physically Representing Data

As part of my dissertation for my honours year I created an online survey looking into how people used social media, how they would define social media and how they felt about using it within a social setting. In total, the survey received 188 replies. Initially, I organised the data – I did this by categorising responses by types. The outcome of this is as follows:

  • 72 males, 114 females, and 2 others took part in the study.
  • These participants fell into the age categories of <15; 15 to 25; 26 to 40; and 40+.
  • When asked how many social networks they engaged with 36 participants replied with more than four social networks; with 42 participant stating that they used four, and a further 56 people using three, and another 45 use two social networks; and 5 people stated that they used either one or less, or did not consider what they used to be social media.
  • When asked to define what social media was, 10 people chose a method of communication, 23 people said it was a method to share content, 30 people said it was a place to form communities online, 1 person said it was for entertainment, and the remaining 123 people defined social media as a combination of these categories.
  • When asked to define what was spending time on social networks 60 people used a singular definition, 40 participants used two definitions; 62 participants used three definitions; and 25 people used 4 definitions to explain what they considered being online.
  • When participants were asked about how they felt about social media in a group setting 21 people replied that it [social media] ruined conversation; 21 people stated that it was slightly acceptable to use social media within a group; 26 people said that it was dependant upon the situation if it was appropriate; 26 people said it was acceptable; 4 people stated that it was okay – because everybody does it; and the remaining 93 said a combination of these responses.

In order to effectively communicate this, I decided to present the data in a physical way. To do this I used small wooden cubes to create a bar chart of the results. These cubes were painted so as to represent the differing outcomes from the responses I received. Having a physical representation of this made it significantly easier to spot trends and discuss the outcome with peers and lecturers. It allowed me to understand what my next steps should be for the project.


Data representation layout showing number of cubes and patterns for each set of data