This post was written by Jan Willem Tulp, who recently won the Eyeo Data Visualization Challenge. Even more, Jan Willem recently took the courageous decision to give up his regular day job in order to start his own data visualization practice.
Day 3 was kicked off by Nicholas Felton. His talk was all about the "Annual Reports that he has been creating for some years now. He explained his fascination with measuring all sorts of aspects, like the number of plats killed, number of people met, and number of miles traveled (which included the number of miles in Grand Theft Auto). For Nicholas measuring everything is truly a way of living: "Every time I drink coffee or see Michael J. Fox, I have to take a note". His 2010 Annual Report is about his father, who also seemed to have the same fascination of collecting and recording everything. It was great to see how he used services like Google Maps and Google Image Search in his CSI-like mission to find locations of images that his father had taken, but had no description or whatsoever of where the picture was taken.
Ben Fry gave a fantastic overview of the work he has done in the past, and more recent work he and his team have made inside Fathom. Two of the remarks he made during his talk that stuck with me are: "Sometimes we need to see both the forest and the trees in order to understand the context" and "In the client work I do, interaction is the fundamental thing". Many of his famous projects were explained, like the Stats of the Union iPad app, All Streets and The Preservation of Favoured Traces which, like Ben said, is actually "track changes of Darwin's Origin of Species". More humorous projects were: MacRecipes, which shows all the tools MacGyver figures out to build in each episode, and a way to make visualizations more physical: cinnamon powder on cappuccino's in the shape of pie charts or packed circle diagrams.
The projects Jer Thorp featured were absolutely stunning. I think that the most remarkable projects he showed were Cascade and All The Names: Algorithmic Design and the 9/11 Memorial. Cascade is a New York Times internal project that visualizes the social shares of news articles. Cascade graphically represents how NYTimes stories are shared on Twitter, identifies who the most influential sharers or retweeters are, displays the timeline of the sharing, and much more. For the For All the Names project, Jer explained the algorithm for placement of names on the 9/11 memorial in New York City and the Processing tool to accomplish that (see image above). But the end of his talk was so true: "It's amazing to be at Eyeo, we had a dream to build this event to be the best conference in creative coding ever. I hope everyone uses this as their stepping point. I want people to be interviewing all of us 10 years ago, and for us to say, 'Well, I was at the Eyeo Festival ten years ago, and it changed my life'."
Aaron Koblin showed some of his older as well as his newer work. Especially the Johnny Cash Project was remarkable, where participants are invited to draw their own portrait of Johnny Cash to be integrated in a collective whole. So far over 250,000 people from 72 countries have participated. He showcased other projects as well, like The Wilderness Downtown, House of Cards video for Radiohead, eCloud: a dynamic sculpture inspired by the volume and behavior of an idealized cloud., and more. It is apparent that Aaron loves creating for the web: "I'm excited about WebGL. Processing is great but it's difficult to share with people who don't have the plugin or whatever.". I would have loved to hear more about his design process.
The last session of Eyeo was a panel discussion with Lisa Strausfeld, Laura Kurgan, Mark Hansen and Michal Migurski. The panel discussed the relationship between data (collection | sharing | analysis | visualization) and social justice. The members of the panel gave a short presentation of their work before starting the discussion. There was a good insight from an AP Data Journalist: "Interview the data, treat it like a source and question it."
This concluded the Eyeo sessions, but not after a great party for all attendants and speakers of cours. To wrap it up, I think everyone at Eyeo agrees with a tweet by Ben Ceverny: "Eyeo festival truly the best gathering of digital information & art practitioners I have ever participated in." Next year Eyeo 2?
Also check out Eyeo Collection, a list of projects shown by presenters at Eyeo.
First mage taken by Kyle McDonald.