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Dr. Sara Diamond


University of East London




data visualization; neural network; performance art; wearable technologies; chat; social media

Thesis Title



How can an artist-created conversation and data visualisation tool be of value to the practices of data visualisation and social media? In what ways can the processes of designing and analysing such a tool inform the fields of Digital Media Studies, Data Visualisation, Collaboration Studies and Design Methods Research?

The primary research was the creation of a unique conversation visualisation tool that encourages creativity in new ways. CodeZebraOS facilitates brainstorming, lateral thought, creative sketching, and the analysis of social dynamics and emotions in online conversation.

This thesis integrates dialogues from Digital Media Studies and Collaboration Studies into the field of Data Visualisation. CodeZebraOS contributes a unique metaphor to Data Visualisation, advocating aesthetics that account for relationships between biological, human and virtual worlds, keeping in mind the structure of the source data. CodeZebraOS contributes to current understandings of the complex relationships between human and zoological life forms in Science and Technology disciplines, and applies the study of these relationships to the practice-based design of the tool’s aesthetics.

A major contribution is the CodeZebra Method, a unique process created for interdisciplinary teams who undertake software development. The methods used to develop CodeZebraOS derive from the empirical approaches of the charrette, participatory design, agile computing and artistic improvisation, creating a hybrid development method. This approach employed usability testing and public deployment at every stage of the tool’s development, concluding with a self-reflexive analysis of the artistic and technological results.

Finally, this thesis emphasises the skills and theoretical understandings of artists and designers. This thesis argues for the centrality of both the artist’s and the designer’s role in the creation of social media and data visualisation tools. It makes an original and substantial contribution in four forms: the creation of CodeZebraOS itself; a substantial academic dissertation with an interdisciplinary analysis of practice in the theoretical context of Computer Science (Data Visualisation), Digital Media Studies (ArtSci), Design Methods Research, and Collaboration Studies; the creation and explication of the CodeZebra Method, and finally, a demonstration of the primacy of art and design skills in software development.



Dr. Sara Diamond, ICD.D leads institutional transformation within arts, digital media/ICT, corporations and institutions, applying the tools of strategic foresight, design thinking, data analytics and user-centered design. She is committed to diversity, inclusion, Indigenous rights, and equitable technology. Dr. Diamond is President Emerita at OCAD University after a 15-year presidency and is a faculty member. An expert in data visualization, she continues funded research in fields where data fluency and visualization bring growing value - accountable AI, wearable technology and health and wellbeing, urban and cultural planning, generative design and media histories. She is co-PI of iCity 2.0, co-chair of Toronto’s ArtWorxTO, Year of Public Art, Chair of Baycrest’s Research Advisory Committee; Expert Panelist, Canadian Centre for the Purpose of the Corporation, Navigator; External Advisor, Lord Cultural Resources; member Government of Canada’s Service Advisory Council. Diamond received the Order of Canada, C.M.; Order of Ontario, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; Doctor of Science, honoris causa, Simon Fraser University; Exceptional Women of Excellence, Women’s Economic Forum; two Media Pioneer awards; Inspiring 50: Advancement of diversity of STEM fields, Government of Netherlands, and Senate of Canada; Canada 150 Women: Leaders, Champions and Luminaries; Toronto Life’s 50 Most Influential. Diamond’s PhD in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering was entitled A Tool for Collaborative Online Dialogue: CodeZebraOS and was granted by University of East London. Research was the creation of a unique conversation visualization tool that encourages creativity in new ways. Using natural language processing, a visual neural network and affective computing CodeZebraOS facilitates brainstorming, lateral thought, creative sketching, and the analysis of social dynamics and emotions in online conversation.

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