Make Data more Human

17 Apr

 “Think about data in a human context”

This was a fascinating video that really shows some quite powerful tools for looking at data. We are now living in a society where data is recorded about you every day (search history, emails, phone calls, texts, timesheet at work, your location, etc.) yet so little of it do we get to see. When we do, how often is it that the data is just charts that the normal person can’t make sense of? That is what really struck me about the video is that data should be made more human, more easily understood. So this is not an easy task (no matter how easy Jer makes it look) but when it is done well it can reveal amazing things. I think one of the most amazing examples is the NYTimes 365/360 diagrams:

Connections between the top newsmakers of 2009

These diagrams show relationships between the top newsmakers for each year. It is really interesting to see how trends come and go over time. This is a broader visualization of data but Jer Thorp helped to create something that allows you to visualize your own life: OpenPaths

This is a really cool system that allows you to view the location data your phone collects (even if you turn off GPS) and see for yourself where you went. I know that might sound silly but he makes the point that once you start to look at it the data will (hopefully) show that your life isn’t just going back and forth to work.

I just want to finish with this one quote from the beginning of the video I really liked: “Look at that logo, it is a rainbow and its not even in the right order! That is how crazy Apple was!”

The TED Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/jer_thorp_make_data_more_human.html

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