Posts Tagged ‘Visualizing Data’

In The Mix…predicting the future; releasing healthcare claims; and $1.5 millions awarded to data privacy

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Some people out there think they can predict the future by scraping content off the web. Does it work simply because web 2.0 technologies are great at creating echo chambers? Is this just another way of amplifying that echo chamber and generating yet more self-fulfilling trend prophecies? See the Future with a Search (MIT Technology Review)

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management wants to create a huge database that contains healthcare claims of millions of. Many are concerned for how the data will be protected and used. More federal health database details coming following privacy alarm (Computer World)

Researchers at Purdue were awarded $1.5 million to investigate how well current techniques for anonymizing data are working and whether there’s a need for better methods. It would be interesting to know what they think of differential privacy. They  appear to be actually doing the dirty work of figuring out whether theoretical re-identification is more than just a theory. National Science Foundation Funds Purdue Data-Anonymization Project (Threat Post)

Follow-up photos from MoMA’s “Design and the Elastic Mind”

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

I forgot my camera the first time I saw this exhibit on a Friday night, with free admission courtesy of Target, and so the photos below don’t capture the enthusiasm and almost sweaty energy of the intense crowd that filled every corner of the exhibition space that night. These photos are from early Wednesday morning last week, with a considerably thinner crowd, and although they’re not fantastic photos, I hope they show some of the curiosity and engagement I saw on people’s faces.

Looking at “Flight Patterns” by Aaron Koblin

An example of Mimi’s point: data of flight patterns imposed on a map, immediately conveying information as well as something nice to look at.

“I Want You to Want Me” by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar

A sweet and funny work playing with data from online dating sites, certainly a database of societal concerns, if not as serious as the Architecture and Justice piece on prison populations.

“Shadow Monsters” by Philip Worthington, probably the most popular piece

And last, something completely unrelated to data, but probably best at conveying how fun this whole exhibition is.

Data Visualizations at MoMA’s “Design and the Elastic Mind”: Beautiful, clever and heartwarming; but what is it trying to tell me??

Friday, March 28th, 2008

CDTF made a field trip to MoMA to see the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibit. I won’t try to summarize the exhibit here, but I think we each left more hopeful and inspired!

One lightbulb that went off (again) for me at the exhibit was just how hard it is to create truly “meaningful” visualizations of data.

I mean “meaningful” in the literal, not metaphorical sense of the word. Almost all of the exhibits were some combination of beautiful, clever, or heartwarming.

But the only ones that most effectively communicated information as opposed to just data were visualizations on maps and timelines: San Francisco taxi traffic patterns, flow of IP data across the globe, timeline of wikipedia edits.

Why? Maps have intrinsic meaning, they are a representation of the physical world we live in. (Calendars too.) As a semantic-rich canvas for data visualizations, maps become the lens through which we extract knowledge from the information presented to us.

Takeaway? When visualizing data, the backdrop is just as important as the actors in the show because by providing context, they provide us with a frame of reference to begin asking questions of the data: What is the significance of how the data points fall? Well, that depends on the semantic significance of the space they inhabit.

Now the question is, can we build a repertoire of semantic-rich canvases for visualizing data beyond maps and calendars?

Here are just a handful of the exhibits. They either fall into the category of: No explanation needed; or Cool, but what does it mean? (Pictures taken from the MoMA website.)

Which ones do you “get” right away?

Cabspotting (in San Francisco)Cabspotting in San Francisco (Amy Balkin)

Rewiring the SpyRewiring the Spy: “Mapping” terrorism in the news. Haunting. (Lisa Strausfeld and James Nick Sears)

Google Earth Mashup: New York Area Flood ZonesGoogle Earth Mashup: Sea level rise flood maps. (Alex Tingle)

Emergent SurfaceEmergent Surfaces: Motorized sculpture responds to its environment. Gorgeous. (Hoberman Associates)

I Want You to Want Me

I Want You to Want Me! Snippets from dating sites. Cute! (Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar)

Text Arc: Alice in WonderlandText Arc: “Mapping” Alice in Wonderland. Egg-shaped whimsy. (W. Bradford Paley)

SonumbraSonumbra: A tree of light that responds to the people in the room. Eerily soothing. (Rachel Wingfield & Mathias Gmachl)

Mapping the Internet“Mapping” the Internet Oddly 80s! (Bill Cheswick)


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