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Visualizar ’09

Rufus Pollock - December 17, 2009 in Events, Free Culture, OKF Projects, Open Data, Public Domain, Talks, Visualization, Weaving History, Where Does My Money Go

The project presentations from last month’s Visualizar seminar have now been posted online. This annual event brought together creative teams from a range of disciplines, with the objective of delivering workable presentations using freely available data resources. The theme for 2009 was Public Data – Data In Public. I was fortunate enough to attend on behalf of the Open Knowledge Foundation: you can find my presentation here [pdf].

The event opened with two days of lectures, papers and debate around the areas of public data re-use and visualization. Highlights included a review of works by the Sunlight Foundation, and an exciting presentation of green lifestyle applications in development for Helsinki’s City as Living Factory of Ecology project, as well as stimulating presentations by Ben Cerveny of Stamen Design, and artist Aaron Koblin.

Project presentations took the form of a market in which initiators laid out their ideas in order to recruit collaborators. During the next two days and the following weekend, working groups came together around each of the concepts, to be developed over the ensuing fortnight.

Kultur-O-Meter

Outcomes

Experience shows that it’s very difficult to judge at the outset which of these projects will deliver the most interesting or usable results, when success depends on many diverse factors. So I was thrilled to see that two of the projects that seemed particularly viable at the start of the seminar yielded such interesting results.

The team working on Madrid’s Kultur-O-Meter produced a detailed poster showing how the city’s cultural budget is distributed. With so much emphasis on the interactive, it’s refreshing to see how a very simple static model can be used to present detailed information concisely and elegantly. I particularly like how the design shows very clearly where the uncertainties lie. Accompanying their presentation is an account of the challenging process of data gathering and analysis (in Spanish).

Piotr Adamczyk, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art developed a timeline framework for exploring the museum’s extensive collection, which could be a wonderful resource for visitors and curators when it’s done. Props also go to the team behind New Political Interfaces for their fun and well-designed toy for visualizing political discourse online.

Liz Turner is founder of visualization studio iconomical and designer of Where Does My Money Go?

Beta release of Weaving History!

Jonathan Gray - July 9, 2009 in News, OKF Projects, Weaving History

Weaving History

We are pleased to announce the first public beta of Weaving History!

Weaving History lets you create ‘factlets‘, containing basic information about historical events, persons, and so on, which you can string together to create historical ‘threads‘. These threads can then be visually represented on maps and timelines.

There’s a function that lets you automatically pull information from Wikipedia, including images, dates, locations and brief descriptions.

For example, you can see a thread of the Napoleonic wars showing the dates and locations of major battles, or a thread showing Shakespeare’s works.

Weaving History

Each factlet can be used in a multiplicity of different threads. For example, a factlet giving the birth and death dates for Leonardo Da Vinci might be included in a thread on renaissance painting, a thread on the history of famous inventors and a thread on the history of anatomy.

The project is very much a work in progress – and we’d love to hear what you think on our discuss list or as a comment below!

If you’d like to try it out, you can get stuck in and create a new factlet or thread! Also if you’d like to contribute – we’d warmly welcome help with developing the graphical interface, the code, or with curating the site!

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