Visualizar ’09

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?

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