Tuesday, December 30, 2008

religion, meet science

Philipp Steinweber and Andreas Koller have created Similar Diversity, a visualization that exposes a fresh perspective on the topic of religion and faith.

The graphic focuses on the Holy Books of five religions from around the world, showing communalities and differences between them.

The essence of the visualization is an objective and honest “text analysis” of the five scriptures without any manipulation from Steinweber or Koller, which are realized with 2 different tools; the evaluation is done using VVVV and the graphic visualization of the data is created in Processing.

Steinweber and Koller downloaded digital versions of English translated Holy Scriptures (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism) from the internet.

The large arc visual shows the 41 most frequent characters from different Holy Scriptures and their communalities. 
The characters are aligned alphabetically on the x-axis. Their names’ and the arcs’ size are calculated from their total word-count in all 5 scriptures. According to that, characters which play a big role in several scriptures are displayed larger.

Below the names can be found bar charts which are breaking down the activities of the characters in detail. The verbs are gained by filtering them out of the texts, technically each verb straight after a character’s name is taken. In case of the word order "God loves" the verb "loves" is referred to the character’s name "God". The height of the rows and the font size show the frequency of particular activities.

What I love most about Similar Diversity, aside its beauty, is the fact that neither author manipulated any of the data from the scriptures, meaning the visualization will effect people differently on an emotional level depending on their religious standpoint. It really made me think about my preconceptions of religion, and in a time of conflict between Israel and Gaza, I Similar Diversity inspired me to think about religious conflict and realize to a certain extent why such hostility remains in existence.

No comments: