Visualising the text of Lydia Very’s Red Riding Hood by Tiffany Ong

This project is based on one of the first shape books ever printed in America, Red Riding Hood, beautifully written and illustrated by Lydia Louisa Anna Very, published in 1863. The aim was to extract data from the text of the story and visualise it in an experimental way, providing a companion to reading the story in its original text.

Characters and locations that were mentioned in the story were counted and recorded per page, first on paper and later transferred to a digital format to enable a more accurate view using several chart types to see the shape of the data and experiment which worked best. Each data element is given an icon or symbol, using simple geometric shapes or lines with colour. Additional data was collected and added, like word count, punctuation, sentiment analysis and plotted to create a scene of the story initially as a static image. Even more data was collected and slightly different concept was formed with a focus of highlighting the sentiment, emotions, and structure of each page, along with details of some words.

In the visualisation, the 16 pages of the book are depicted as circles, each with 8 sentences as lines, corresponding to the words circling around, and 2 rhyming words, as the story was written as a poem. Their sentiment value coloured accordingly by shades of gold or grey. Emotions represented by triangles positioned around the circle and intensity the size. A static image started proving difficult to show the detail of each page. The basic building blocks of web coding languages, HTML and CSS, were chosen to build the visual elements, to decrease dependencies. There were obvious limitations but it pushed technical boundaries and expanded personal knowledge.

A single page with tooltip and pop up interactivity was eventually decided on as it allowed more vertical scrolling canvas for additional information and structure. Analysis is still ongoing to see if graphically representing and visualising the text is a good companion to reading the text of the story, or offers any new insights.