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The BBC recently announced [bbc.co.uk] that the results of the UK general election 2010 are to be projected on to St Stephen's Tower, world-famous as the clock tower that houses Big Ben.

The idea behind projecting the results in this way is to provide a clear and simple source of information and to create an "arresting" image. The results projection, which will be removed after dawn on 7 May, will feature a "winning line", representing the 326 seats that any party will need to win to be sure of an outright victory. The idea was approved by the parliamentary authorities, responsible for the management of its buildings and the BBC is said to be "delighted" with the initiative.

Via Mara News and Datanemics.

Note: the image on the left appeared at the BBC website. No clue why the Photoshop guy could not update the "2005" reference with a more appropriate year label. The other image originates from Greenpeace. I therefore hope the security has the perimeter around the tower covered for any potential data "skewing" from outside.

What do you think? Is it a useful way to display newsworthy information?


Um maybe because 2005 was the last general election and those are the results.

Tue 04 May 2010 at 12:54 AM

Actually, I think it would be pretty interesting if various groups try to project other data on the tower, either to hijack the display or to subtly change the BBC one.

Of course, this opens up a much broader discussion on public space, ownership, and vandalism.
On such an iconic landmark it seems questionable whether anyone should be allowed to show whatever they want, and use it for their political or other agenda. There just has been another election related guerilla projection: An anti-fascist group displayed their message on the House of Parliament (http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100503/wl_afp/britainvotefarright). This might be a clever idea to transport their statement, but what if the other side does the same?

Tue 04 May 2010 at 1:08 AM

Fun idea... on the '2005' comment. I'm sure it's because they needed a neutral mockup so the best course was to use real results from a previous election.

Putting 2010 on the 2005 results probably wouldn't have gone over so well and any generic mockup (i.e. fictional data) couldn't be done in an entirely neutral way... best to stick w/documented history.

Tue 04 May 2010 at 6:38 AM

Well thankfully none of you readers called Big Ben "chart junk". Since Big Ben is part of the Houses of Parliament building it seems a perfect enhancing artistic embellishment to the election data.

Wed 05 May 2010 at 8:44 AM

That's actually a pretty cool idea of using the tower like that. Actually, I think the public is going to continue to see unique methods of data-visualization as more and more interesting as new avenues of seeing statistical information about humans from Facebooks social graph or DirtyPhoneBook releases some statistics or okcupid's stats blog. Information is affecting our lives more and more and how that information is displayed and interpreted becomes increasingly significant to how the world around us is perceived and what actions to cure social ills are created.

I'd ordinarily think that the UK wouldn't do something cool like this but props on them for thinking up such a cool idea. It would be neat to see this broadcast on the side of some American buildings though I'm not sure what structure would be iconic enough to use. Maybe the washington monument?

Wed 05 May 2010 at 12:12 PM
Derek Mason
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