Posts Tagged ‘data visualization’
A super quick post to put up the slides from a talk I gave at NLB a couple of days ago. It is ongoing research so I would love to hear people’s comments as I finetune/clean up the research.
I’m doing some research into the Future of Data at the moment. I think Wired Magazine described it best when they wrote about the Petabyte Age.
“Welcome to the Petabyte Age. Sensors everywhere. Infinite storage. Clouds of processors. Our ability to capture, warehouse, and understand massive amounts of data is changing science, medicine, business, and technology. As our collection of facts and figures grows, so will the opportunity to find answers to fundamental questions. Because in the era of big data, more isn’t just more. More is different.”
When you are researching big-hairy-gorilla-type topics, like the Future of Data, it is always encouraging to see that other people are interesting in the similar things. So imagine my excitement over the weekend when I came across Matt Jones’ (from Dopplr) presentation on slideshare.
I really like the idea of data as seductive material. The idea that data has the ability to entice someone into a desired outcome or state. My phrase for it was behaviour optimisation, which really doesn’t sound as fun.
Main themes from conference speakers centred around mobile technology, data visualization/ real-time data, urban city future (mainly on changes in transport systems & infrastructure) online communities & inventions. Pictures from LIFT conference, and videos of sessions are online.
There was an interesting presentation by Jorg Jelden of Trendbuero on Fakesumption – the consumption of fake products. He analyzed why consumers knowingly and deliberately purchase fakes, and raised questions for companies to consider. Global trade of fakes was twice the volume of Walmart’s and usually backed by organized crime. Consumers, particularly in emerging markets, considered fakes good-enough solutions to the originals. They also saw themselves as brand consumers, so it was not a good idea for companies to try and sue or punish them. Could we think of new ways to integrate such consumers instead of penalizing them? How could we convince them to pay for the premium? Companies would need to bridge the brand gap between marketed brand value and consumer trust in them.
Baba Wame from Cameroon shared candidly on how women in his country were using online dating to try to find white husbands. Then Frank Beau spoke about a project called Metromantics (finding love in the subway) where his team analyzed how people interacted in the subway, and how Metro of the 21st century might look like.
Clive van Heerden of Philips Design Probe shared youtube videos of prototype projects, such as sensing clothes, electronic tattoo (very cool video!), and biosphere home-grown food.
The closing highlight of the conference was Vint Cerf, legendary pioneer of the internet, who shared his observations on how the www had grown, key changes to the internet platform, and his personal project on inter-planetary internet. Brilliant!
Main themes from conference centred around mobile technology, data visualization/ real-time data, urban city future (mainly on changes in transport systems & infrastructure) online communities & inventions. Pictures from LIFT conference, and videos of sessions are online.
One interesting speaker, Nicholas Nova, a LIFT researcher, spoke on why ‘future’ products fail. Videophones, intelligent kitchens and flying cars were imagined long before they (a) were realized, or (b) remained a figment of sci-fi. For the failed ideas, some common characteristics bound them -
- recurring reinvention of the wheel, each prototype thinking it was new and different from the previous
- little knowledge of similar (failed) attempts
- trapped in the current context (which limits the imagination of what is possible)
- myth of the ‘average’ human – there is no average; bad understanding of the end-users of the new technology
- automating rituals using technology (eg. location-based services to replace human phone calls) is just not the same
- making technology more natural – but difficult to define what is ‘natural’ behaviour
David Rose, a serial entrepreneur, showed many slides of lovely objects and prototypes that his company had designed. Enchanted objects, as he called them, fulfiled 6 desires – desire to know, communicate, heal, protect, create, and travel – and gave examples of each category.
Another engaging session was on real-time data. Carlo Ratti from MIT Sensable City Lab shared projects that it had done using real-time location tracking and information. Eg. New York Talk Exchange to get a sense of the sms being traded, NY Trash Track – a project to trace and better manage the amount of trash generated, Green Wheel – an eco-friendly bicycle that tracks your route and connects to Facebook informing you who had also crossed your paths in the day. Next, Dan Hill from ARUP gave a lively session on soft city infrastructure. He touched on (1) the ability to bend the physical city (eg. of Paris, where basic road infrastructure did not change, but mobility was changed by bicycles), and (2) ability to see the invisible (eg. work is not non-visible, can we use real-time data to visualize what people are doing, or a 3D-modelling of the wifi network). One point that struck me was how to use augmented reality to empower citizens and make them feel like they were in control of the transportation system.
The highlight of the day was a sharing by Sarah Marquis, an adventurer who walked 14,000km over 17 days across Australia by herself, with only bare necessities and a solar panel. Her story was inspiring and heart-warming. It was the only session that held the entire audience captivated in our seats, with no one typing away at the laptops.
We ended Day 1 with a traditional Swiss fondue dinner. Break pieces of bread, pierce them on the fondue forks, twirl around in the cheese, and pop the entire bite into your mouth. Lovely.
It is the first time we are attending the LIFT Conference held annually in Geneva, Switzerland. As always, there are hits and misses. Some of the pre-conference workshops and conference presentations are flops, and we try to spot the gems. Pictures from the conference are uploaded. Videos of sessions are online.
One of the interesting workshops was one on Lifestream Data Visualization. The presenters were from Nokia and Experientia, and shared their work on visualizing large quantities of data in the form of beautiful meaningful patterns that supported cognitive processes. The key question was how to store data in ways that would help future ‘memory’ retrievals.
The participants were then split into small groups to draw up either utopian or dystopian scenarios around how data would be accessed in 2020, stored, the ethical, privacy and security issues. My group talked about the storage of personal health data in our bones, which would by default be public information (ie. non-traceable to the individual). Governments could then use the mass of real-time data for health policices, interventions, and research purposes. Eg. if the average blood pressure in Zurich was higher than in Geneva, that could be a potential topic for research. To personalize the data (ie. link it to the individual) during, say a visit to one’s doctor, one could activate a personal signature to encrypt or identify the data. In short, my idea was to go with a default situation of mass data availability, and ‘tag’ it when needed. Rather than the inverse (and current thinking) of keeping everything private, and releasing access with approval.
The utopian scenario was easy – for instance, people could be given real-time health advice based on their location, eg. potential allergies walking down a street and getting suggestions for alternative routes. The dystopian version was an overly automated ‘policing’ system where computers overrode one’s decisions. For instance, being refused at the supermarket to buy XXX product because it was bad for cholesterol. Or worse, being turned back at airport immigration due to bad health.
Other groups had ideas where one’s intelligent house would respond to one’s mood, eg. having curtains lowered with sombre music during unhappy moments. If you wanted to share the unhappy story with a friend, simply call him and his house would replicate yours. ….. (Hmmm… I am positively sure that I do not want random people to call me and ‘spam’ my house!). Another group came up with the “Trust Glasses” that would give you a trust/ reliability rating of the person you were talking to. For instance, getting an opinion or recommendation from John, the glasses might tell you ‘poor rating’ because John had a bad day and was not thinking straight.
My personal take was that every technology could be utopian or dystopian, depending on our mindset and use of it. For some, real time health advice could be a welcome service. For others, freedom to decide our own actions is sacrosanct.