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This very website does not really post about competitions a lot, let alone will it partner with one (though few exceptions exist). However, this competition is different, as it does not consist of a nice prize and then-be-done-with-it. In fact, it will actually pay $5,000 to one of three winners to collaborate with software and exhibition experts to help implement the visualization for a real-world museum installation.

This means this is the first 'commission-based' competition within the field of visualization, at least that I know of... In my humble opinion, this is how data visualization competitions should evolve: not only to pick a winner, but also to give that person the chance to get some real-world experience and exposure. Similar schemes seem to work fine in other design-related fields like architecture or fashion, so maybe it will also work for visualization?

So here is the official call. Note that a few more fine-print details are available below.

Museum software company EDM Studio is holding a data visualization competition on the subject of ... sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). Yes, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia: we have got (data for) them all.

Some context is probably in order. The current Telus World of Science - Calgary is relocating to a brand new facility. This new science centre opens to the public in late October 2011. This means all exhibits are new, and not just in the shiny "fresh out of the box" way. The focus is very much on play and exploration - inquiry-based learning rather than the didactic fact panels of old. Within the Human Body gallery is the "STI exhibit", described as:

Gaining an epidemiological view on sexually transmitted infections makes them interesting in a different way. Visitors use a touch screen to explore a database of Calgary, Canadian and perhaps global STI data. The interface is clean, good-looking, easy-to-navigate and judgment-free. Visitors can browse the data by location, age, disease, age group and time. The results should be primarily visual (as opposed to numerical) and unfold (be temporal rather than static)."
Rather than use an in-house graphic designer, EDM is holding this competition to (i) identify compelling ways of looking at STI data, and (ii) commission a visualization guru to see the exhibit through to completion.

Individual prizes of US $1,000 will be awarded to three of the best entries. One of these entrants will be awarded a US $5,000 commission to spend a further person-week working with the exhibit developer and the software folks at EDM in taking the design through to the final exhibit.

The contest closes on 22 August. If you are interesting in participating, please send an email to sti-competition@edmstudio.com. By registering, you will gain access to the competition data (a subset of the actual data, part of which is available online.


More competition details

  1. Entries will consist of a single 4:3 aspect ratio (bitmap or vector) image showing a representative visualization of the competition data.
  2. For those interested in the follow-up commission, entries should also include a text description (up to 300 words) explaining how the visualization approach could be extended to a dynamic interactive (see STI exhibit brief above).
  3. All entries must be received by the competition closing date of 22 August 2011 at midnight Mountain Standard Time (GMT-7).
  4. Entries will be judged by a panel from Infosthetics.com, EDM and the Telus World of Science - Calgary. The decision of the judges is final. Winning entrants will be notified by email within one week of competition closing.
  5. To mitigate the risk that none of winning entries is a visualization direction that the science centre wishes to pursue, EDM reserves the right not to award the $5000 commission. Note, the three $1000 prizes will be awarded regardless. (This is a worst-case scenario: we want to choose an Infosthetics.com reader to to work on the production interactive.)
  6. The competition is open to visualizers from any country. We encourage non-Canadians to participate. The only people who cannot submit entries are those already involved with the new science centre project.



Can we see the winning entry here?

Tue 30 Aug 2011 at 6:22 PM
Ron Smiley
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