Hi! My name is Dominikus Baur and I'm a Data Visualization & Mobile Interaction Designer from Munich, Germany. I love crafting well-behaved systems where you won't even notice that thin interface between you and your data.
I blog about touchable visualizations, data visualization in general and mobile and touch-based interaction design.

You should talk to me: do@minik.us @dominikus


Visits is an on-going research project about visualizing personal location histories that I've been meaning to write about for a while now. Location histories from services such as Moves or Google can be loaded and explored as interactive map-timelines. Plus, I get to rant about personal data's bogeyman reputation.

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If you've ever been to New York, you most definitely have used its extensive and (somewhat) reliable Subway - the easiest way to travel through the city. And if you took a look at your fellow passengers you might have noticed that at certain points on the line, people frantically started tapping and swiping their phones only to let go after a bit with a disappointed face. New York City is one of the few remaining metropolis without comprehensive cell phone reception on their subway system.

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On Broadway wins Silver at KANTAR Information is Beautiful Awards!

Two weeks ago, the KANTAR Information is Beautiful Awards 2015 happened at the impressive Ham Yard Hotel in London. Moritz and I had the chance to be there and it was worth it: not only for the drinks and the great crowd, but we won Silver in the category Data Visualization Project for On Broadway!

Moritz and I were thrilled:

50% of the On Broadway team at the IIB awards (image courtesy of IIB Awards).

Congrats also to the other winners in that category, Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi for Dear Data and Nicholas Felton for his series of annual reports!

Science is thinking by other means

Recently, the connection between the scientific process and how our brain works hit me. Visual perception works through a combination of bottom-up and top-down processes. And since our scientific approach also becomes ever more data-driven, we're moving towards a science that mimics how our brains process information.

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Flavors of vis: Painters, Storytellers and Teachers

Every popular artist has their own unique style. If they're really good at it, they can be recognized after only a few moments of exposure. Filmmakers are a good example, since they often focus on either their visual or narrative style. When thinking about that I found that it's quite similar in visualization: there are the painters and the storytellers. But since visualization is an interactive medium we have a third category: unique interaction styles - the teachers of visualization.

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Big Data and the end of everyday cheating

I'm currently thinking (and reading) a lot about the implications of a data-driven society. Data collection is taking a foothold in our daily lives, through social media but even more so through the internet of things. All of a sudden we're split into two beings: our good old physical selves and outsourced digital versions in the cloud.

Pundits like to emphasize the benefits of big data and algorithms to all of us (I assume with economic motivations). We'll get the end of theory and become better parents, friends and employees. These assurances usually leave the rest of us with a feeling of dread. The big data spectre hangs above us all and we're in fear of old drinking photos showing up in job talks or having our lives ruined by one stupid tweet. Also, we're facing a new data apartheid, with powerful data lords on the one side and us sheepish content generators on the other.

But what's interesting for our daily lives is that big data probably means the end of everyday cheating.

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On Broadway

The selfiecity team is back! In a new project with Lev Manovich, Moritz Stefaner and Daniel Goddemeyer, we tackled the representation of city life in the 21st century. Reminiscent of pieces like Ed Ruscha's "Every Building on the Sunset Strip", On Broadway shows the iconic street in New York City as recreated from the data streams of thousands of people.

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Interactive iPad Scatterplots

Another research project from this year that tackles multi-touch visualizations: Ramik Sadana's and John Stasko's Designing and implementing an interactive scatterplot visualization for a tablet computer. The authors came up with several neat interaction techniques for massaging the data presented in a scatterplot in various ways.

When I saw the excellent presentation by Ramik at AVI 2014 back in May, I was very reminded of my own Touchwave project - different visualization technique (scatterplots instead of stacked graphs), but related interactions based on the vocabulary of the iPad. I guess just one more such touchification paper until we see a taxonomy for touch-based interactions published...

Anyway, here's the video:

Kinetica (CHI 2014) goes DataSquid

I've been meaning to mention this project for a while now: Kinetica: Naturalistic Multi-touch Data Visualization by Jeff Rzeszotarski and Niki Kittur from Carnegie Mellon's HCI team is a fascinating look at what interaction with data can be like when you start from a purely touch-based premise.

The basic idea is to have every data point as an actual point on screen and give people several physics-inspired tools to explore it. Tools shown in the video are "walls" that filter for certain criteria and free-form "magnets" that attract data points, again based on certain criteria:

This concept was so appealing that Kinetica spawned a startup: DataSquid takes the same approach and lets you analyze your data using these multi-touch physics. Here's a demo from their website:

It's still invite-only, but it looks like it could have a great future! Dare I say Multi-touch Tableau?

Everything except the chart - tutorial at IEEE VisWeek 2014

Moritz Stefaner and I gave a tutorial at this year's IEEE Visweek in beautiful Paris. In 'Everything except the chart' we summarized everything we've learned about how to develop complex, web-based visualizations - except how to build the charts themselves. We've talked about things like our development process (Coffeescript, SASS, grunt, etc.), how to social media, and how WebGL is the hottest new thing out there for 3D piecharts (irony is hard on twitter!).

Anyway, you can find our code examples here and the slides right here (click to focus and navigate with arrow keys).