Over the last years different disciplines, from computer science to social sciences, from humanities to business managements, have looked at Communication Design with increasing interest, recognizing its ability to redefine and model new epistemological processes through artifacts, tools and interfaces.
This appears more evident when these disciplines have to deal with the increasing quantity and complexity of data brought by the digital revolution.

In the 2013/2014 edition of the Final Synthesis Studio we ask students to use information visualization both as an analytical and a communicative tool, to observe, understand, shape and communicate complex phenomena.
The course is divided in two main phases where the students will move from the visual representation of structured cultural data towards the design of interfaces to access unstructured data coming from the web produced by individuals, organizations and communities in order to understand macro-phenomena arising in society.

In the first phase, students will face all the challenges of data visualization both in terms of production process and communication, starting from cultural data coming from libraries, archives digital collections.
The exercise aims at deepening the relationship between designers and humanities, exploring the role that designers can have in the definition of new cognitive interfaces and tools to support humanistic inquiries and it’s part of a broader research area of DensityDesign within the digital humanities, started from the collaboration with the Stanford Humanities Center for the project Mapping the Republic of Letters.
The output format is a single-page website, in which students must respect the visual, physical and interactive constraints of the medium in the visual communication of their topics.

In the second phase students will work with techno-scientific controversies debated in our society, applying the Controversy Mapping methods developed by Bruno Latour. In these controversies there isn’t a single, monolithic ‘truth’, but rather many truths often in contrast between them. Even when there is a relevant scientific and media agreement on these controversies, it is important to map and understand the different position of the involved actors, even the minorities and anti-scientific ones to understand the controversy influences on society.
The proposed topics come from DensityDesign collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and Sciences-Po Medialab.
Controversies analysis will be grounded in the web, collecting and analysing digital traces using tools and methods developed by the Digital Methods Initiative. Internet, and the different web spheres, will not be just a source of information but the object of study, using it as mirror of society.
Output of the second phase will be a printed report, visualizing the analysis performed by students, and a web application able to convey the state of debate to a wide public.

During the two phases students attend to four sub-modules in order to properly frame their projects: modules will covers statistics, visual languages history and principles, semiotics, controversy mapping and digital methods.

The following projects were developed by the students through the course: