Antidisciplinary Ambient Technology: Graphical Libraries and Data Vi[ral]ization

Inspired by a rather appropriate infographic introduced in a data vis sesh at SxSW, I will amend my Woo Visualizationprevious posting to include some other trends populating presentations of the past two days. In collaboration with the Harvard Libraries, Rosten Woo of discussed his employment of a circulation history dataset from Harvard’s libraries tracking use of the collection by a color-coded system of subject-heading classifications. The graph dynamically maps use of particular subsets of the collection to track check-out rates for book subjects with cascading specificity categorized by color, all in the name of mapping collection popularity by topic. This outshows our rather unattractive CountUse manual scan function in Millenium currently in use at work. Both attractive and useful from a collection development standpoint, Woo’s project overlaps issues of datavisualization and more seemless technological integration of graphical representations, large data sets and our increasing attraction to mapping and charting information. Given its popularity throughout the conference, I thought I would discuss some of the more fascinating presentations.

Good Mag InfographicOn the art side, myriad presentations discussed graphic design and infographic impulse for journalists and media specialists across disciplinary platforms. A Sunday keynote addressed the idea of “ambient technology” and on more than one occasion, I heard authors of infographics cite “anti-disiplinary” efforts to fluidly integrate creative and coding energies and to create collaborative information designs. Coordinating a more composite relationship between human and computer processing of a dataset through graphic representations attempts to allow multiple disciplines to collaborate on providing visualizations of information. Informed by art and computer development, collaborative “antidisciplinary” information processing units are at present working together to create more useable, visible and applicable data, examples showcased in the user-friendly visualizations of and in this year’s Visualization Marathon sponsored by Seed and Eyebeam among others:

View the vid

On the tech side,  a code-heavy but creative presentation on the potential of WebGL (Web-Based Graphics Library) and Html5 to transform the representational capability and rendering of interactives echoes some of my quoting of Chrome’s Wilderness Downtown project (re: previous post), while also introducing me to additional experiments courtesy of Google (slides available here: Among these, Chrome Experiments’ WebGL interactive globe enables geographic data mapping of WebGL projects that encourages users to add data and actively manipulate and move the globe in the same way that their collab Rome video popculture-izes the “movement” toward a more webGL enabled online environment like last year’s Arcade Fire video partnership. The code is pretty cool, Chrome-enabled and built on the broadly defined principles of WebGL which conflates our client-side connection to (formerly) more “inaccessible” code: creating a frictionless hardware and software already embedded in browser to permit users to interact with visual representations online and engage in 3-D rendering, rotation, and contribution to content like never before.

This aligns comfortably with the prior keynote on “ambient technology.” The idea being that the best data and code is invisible, that infoprojects have become increasingly integral to our systems such that they are no longer physical and tactile products but WebGLUniverserather interactive interfaces with a fluid and atmospheric quality. No longer in the domain of rational or Cartesian graphics to compliment our information, we have entered the realm of sensitive cohesion with our techverse (not “I think, therefore I am” but “I sense therefore I am”), with our presence codified in a personalized cartography defined by the datasets and infographs that chart and map our media output online/otherwise.

As a friend and fellow librarian once mentioned to me, we will soon be the voices of nostalgia when we recount our use of barcodes and cards for access to our account information at libraries and in life, as we witness the more progressive development of chip implants embedded with our unique IDs and access codes. And yet, the popularity of 3-D design and printing capabilities developed through Web GL and creatively customized by coders at MIT or Chrome experiments suggests that we harbor a persistent attachment to rendering these virtual developments in tactile and physical products, digitally designed but printed in 3-D. As I opened with Woo’s data visualization of CountUse data at Harvard’s libraries, I’ll close with Chrome Experiment’s graphic interactive of Google Books in an online “Bookcase” library.  Browser embedded and browseable for users, the bookcase presents a coded to cool digital collection. Along with other infographics at 2012’s SxSW, we thus witness the development of graphics libraries, and interactives that blur code and creativity in human-computer cohesive interface.

Some valuable links:

Cool Map Book connecting emotions to visualizations:

Data Vis for SxSW site

Woo’s Graphics

Good Magazine’s Graphics for visualizing your data:

Cool stuff w/Web GL: your own robot printed jewelry Experiments Rome Video

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