Death makes people reflect on values, virtues, and wellbeing. ValueViz aims to capture and visualize these reflections. Our main line of research in this area visualizes the patterns of values, virtues, and constituents of wellbeing (VVC) attributed to people in obituaries. We have visualized these networks of VVC using both Gephi and the IsingFit package in R.


This map, made with Gephi, represents the patterns of VVC extracted from obituaries in Eugene, Oregon. Family and friends are central values here. VVC represented with the same color tend to cluster together.

Eugene, Oregon


This map, also made with Gephi, represents the patterns of values extracted from obituaries in Amherst, Massachusetts. People in Amherst seem to be unusually civic-minded. Values represented with the same color tend to cluster together.

Amherst, Massachusetts


This is a map of the same Amherst dataset made with the IsingFit package in R.


This map represents the patterns of values extracted from obituaries in Flint, Michigan. Note the importance of union membership, which we did not see in other towns.

Flint, Michigan


This map represents the extent to which different values are associated with men and women. The closer a term is to deep red, the more it is attributed to women; the closer it is to deep blue, the more it is attributed to men.

Femalel v. Male


This is a simplified map from a larger dataset of over 13,000 obituaries, with summary labels for each group of VVC.

GROUPED AS NODES

 

This is a map of the VVC of the Islamic State, as represented by the text of obituaries in Dabiq magazine.

Dabiq values (Islamic State)

Dabiq values (Islamic State)

In addition, building on the work of hep cat Richard Sluijs, we have created a visualization of all suicides related to the Great Recession of 2008:

Works-in-Progress:

  • Higgins, A., Levernier, J., & Alfano, M. (in progress). Mapping human values: Identifying virtues and values through obituary data-mining.
  • Alfano, V. & Alfano, M. (under contract). Mourning Texts as Literature and Philosophy: Still Lives. Routledge.
  • Higgins, A. & Alfano, M. (under contract). Natural language processing and semantic network visualization for philosophers. In E. Fischer (ed.), Methodological Advances in Experimental Philosophy. Bloomsbury.

Publications: