Rhetorical Data Web

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For this data visualization, we used the program Palladio to create a visual web that shows connections between specific works within the almanac and specific types of rhetoric used. Our research question for this particular visualization was, of the types of reoccurring rhetoric used (Family, Religion, Science, and Secular Morality) which one was used the most and where.

As you can see the center circles of each web represent one of the fours kinds of rhetoric found within the almanac. The size of the each center circle varies depending on how often each kind of rhetoric was used. Thus Secular Morality (the most occurring form of rhetoric) is the largest circle while Science (the least occurring form of rhetoric) is the smallest. Connecting off of these circles are lines that lead to the titles of different articles within the almanac. These lines mean that “X form of rhetoric occurs in Z almanac article”. It should be noted that for sake of not visually over-stimulating the user, longer article titles have been shortened. You can tell that there is more to an article title if you see a “…” afterwords.

Admittedly, to do this we could have just uploaded a chart with the numbers themselves (ex: just have it written out that science rhetoric was used three times, that family rhetoric was used eight times etc.) however, with a data set so small just number alone would not have been an effective way to convey the data. By visually seeing the data in a web and being able to visually compare the four types of rhetoric, the user gains a better understanding for how often (or unoften) a type of rhetoric was used. That being said our data found that scientific rhetoric was used three times within the almanac. Religious rhetoric occurred seven times within the almanac, Family rhetoric was used eight times. And finally, Secular Morality rhetoric occurred the most within our almanac with thirty-seven instances.

When it comes to interpreting the data and figuring out why secular morality rhetoric was used the most, while scientific rhetoric was used the least, some basic historical context can help us make inferences. The overall goal of the abolitionist almanac (and by extension the American abolitionist movement itself) was to reach the largest scope of people. By today’s standards we hold scientific rhetoric in the highest regards, almost everyone agrees that proven scientific facts can’t be argued with. However, this was not the case during the abolitionist movement. Not everyone had the privilege of receiving an education let alone one that was deeply enriched by the sciences. Thus we can infer that scientific rhetoric was not as commonly used in the almanac because to do so, in short, would have been fairly ineffective. Secular Morality, on the contrary, is a different story. While not ever American citizen attended school during the abolitionist era most everyone had a religious upbringing or at the very least was exposed to secular morals. In addition to most American being well familiar with secular morals some of the biggest supporters of the abolitionist movement where religious groups such as the Quakers.

It is quite interesting to see how the writers of the Almanac were hyper aware of their audience and that they too cared deeply about user experience.