Saturday, 7 February 2009

Data Representation

I like data. And really like it when cold hard fact is represented in engaging and inventive ways. Like any story well told, the representation of data is key to getting a message across.

Once of the most powerful ad campaigns of recent years was the 2005 “Meet the World” flags campaign - created by FCB for Grande Reportagem. The concept uses flags of different nations to visualize data relating to social and political issues of that country.

Recently, Microsoft have released a new music package called Songsmith.Songsmith generates musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice. Just choose a musical style, sing into your PC’s microphone, and Songsmith will create backing music for you. Then share your songs with your friends and family, post your songs online, or create your own music videos.

Johannes Kreidler has used Songsmith to derive melodies from Stock Charts.

In an oldie but a goodie from TED – (Thanks Andy!) You've never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, statistics guru Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called "developing world."

With more and more sense data (GPS, mobile, wifi, RFID etc) becoming available, the ability to track flows, movement and transfers in real time is becoming increasingly significant.

I worked with the SENSEableCity Lab at MIT last year on a project to engage people in real time representations of movement tracking data for bicycle use in the city of Copenhagen. Below, WikiCity Rome, one of the labs earlier projects uses cell phone and other sense data to make meaningful real time representations of what’s happening in the world around us.

In the brilliant BBC series, Britain From Above (Thanks Davey!), GPS data traces are used to track shipping and flight paths across the country. The striking visuals used in this program demonstrate the charming qualities of data to meaningfully engage people with the world around them.

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