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How To...Visualize An Exchange

Judith Donath sees conversations differently. The fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center designs social interfaces for online interaction. As an instructor, she’s given students the assignment of visualizing conversations. Here, Francis Lam, a new-media artist and former Donath pupil, spins an internal Fast Company thread into an infographic. The tower setup "has a subtly prescriptive air," writes Donath in her forthcoming book, Signals, Truth & Design. "One wants to make the tower of messages well-balanced." We’ll let you judge.

  1. Size of the block corresponds to the length of the message.
  2. Color indicates speaker.
  3. Blocks drop downward in the order of posting (think Tetris).
  4. If a block skews left, the message is positive. If the block tips to the right, the message is negative.
  5. Dot signifies one speaker cc’ing another.

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A version of this article appeared in the February 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.