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.
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.
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:
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?
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!).