What Line is it Anyway? explores the way people interpret an adjective through the simple task of drawing a line. We crowd sourced 1300 people to draw us a line by using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, which is an amazing platform to get people (called workers) to do a simple task without them knowing the bigger picture or context.

We asked each worker to draw us a line from ‘start’ to ‘finish’, the only other information we gave them was that they had to do it according to an adjective. For example, we asked them: “Draw a spiky line”. Each worker got paid 2 U.S dollar cents.

We used Processing to programme the online drawing tool and stitch it all together for the video. Max/MSP/Jitter was used to create some pre-visualisations, run some tests and do some list processing.

This project is made by Andrew Spitz (me) and Umesh Janardhanan and was part of the Data Visualization module at CIID, run by Golan Levin. Thanks to Marcin Ignac for his help.

Interesting facts:

Average Time Spent on a Drawing:

creative Line: 55 seconds
smooth Line: 70 seconds
spiky Line: 42 seconds
straight Line: 38 seconds

Collective length of lines (about 150 participants per adjective) :

Spirally Line: 39 meters
Straight Line:  21 meters
Wild Line: 44 meters
Smooth Line: 20 meters

This picture below is from when we were figuring out the logic, geometry and most importantly trying to communicate with each other.


2 Responses to “What Line is it Anyway? {+ visualization}”  

  1. 1 Dale

    Andrew, I felt that the ‘creative’ section wasn’t creative enough, the ‘workers’ could have done amazing stuff. Anyway, another great project, keep up the good work. I’ve had my ear to the ground and people are only starting to talk now about the stuff we were working on last year…talk about being ahead of the curve. Anyway when you get back and become this interactive genius, maybe I can make your coffee…

  2. 2 Andrew Spitz

    Hey Dale, thanks for the comment. They definitely could have gone more creative… but to put Mturk into context, these workers make a living off mindless tasks, and they get paid crazy low money to do a task so they have to do plenty to just ear basic money. It must get really tedious to do this day in and day out.

    Glad you’re keeping an ear out for opportunities 😉

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