The Decade of Mad Cow Disease

What The Guardian Wrote About the British Mad Cow Disease Crisis from 1986-1996.


"We are ready to question the impersonality of a merely technical approach to data, and to begin designing ways to connect numbers to what they really stand for: knowledge, behaviors, people."

"Data visualization will inevitably be all about personalization."

- Giorgia Lupi


This page presents the final prototype of my thesis project, Data Humanisn: Examining how the British newspaper, The Guardian, depicted the British Mad Cow Disease Crisis from 1986–1996. This research examines the use of data visualization not only to inform audiences about a particular event but mainly to humanize data and uncover the missing content and hidden stories. My final prototype consists of an online interactive storytelling and a data visualization design.

Inspired by Giorgia Lupi's data humanism, and combined with the theories of thick data, local data, and feminist data visualization, I shaped my own understanding of Data Humanism:

Data humanism is—an attitude of data visualization designers that not only focuses on numerics but also analyzes all related context, an approach to represent data with a human understanding story and intuitive visual design.



Flow of the Online Interactive Storytelling

The 1st and the 2nd page are the project introduction. These pages introduce this project and provide the definition of mad cow disesase and a background information about the British mad cow disease crisis from 1986 to 1996.

The 3rd page gives reader an overview of the data. The bubble cluster presents how many articles mentioned mad cow disease in that period and how many related articles in each section. The text description gives the audience some detail explanation and the conclusion that mad cow disease was a social issue at that time.

The 4th page presents two things: how many related articles published in each month in that period and a timeline of mad cow disease.

The 5th page mainly presents how the news media tend to use the more professional term to describe mad cow disease.

In the end, I left an open ending. I want the audience start to think about what kind of role the British newpapers played during this crisis.

Data Visualization Design