Posted in collaboration, visualization, Web 2.0, tagged data, Google, Google Code, James Frost, mashup, Radiohead, remix, Tron, video, visualization, YouTube on 16 July 2008 |
Interesting that despite the fact that Radiohead’s sound hasn’t progressed since their Kid A/Amnesiac breakthrough back in the day, the band continues to keep my attention in other ways.
They’ve just released a very cool video that was created using rotating laser scanners, 3D imaging and data visualization techniques — and no film or cameras.
Says the director of the video, James Frost (who’s done videos for the Flaming Lips among others):
In a weird way it’s a direct reflection of where we are in society… that everything is data. Everything around us is data-driven in some shape or form, and we’re so reliant on it now. It seems like our lives are digital, and so in that sense, it definitely felt apt.
Actually, that is as good an explanation for the current data visualization craze as I’ve heard yet.
Aesthetically, “House of Cards” reminds me a little of Tron, crossed with those toy boxes with rows of movable cylindrical metal pins that make a 3D contour when you press your hand or face on them (what the heck are they called?).
And Google is totally getting in on the action – Google Code is also hosting the video, as well as a “making of” clip (where I got the quote from the director above) and assorted other goodies for programmers who want to do remixes/mashups.
It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of making the data and source code available. There’s already 15 videos posted to the official YouTube group. Most focus on fiddling with the image data - this one is neat – but there’s already one that takes a hack at both the visual and auditory channel.
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A while back I read “What’s Up With Tag Clouds?” (PDF) over at Perceptual Edge – the paper noted that word clouds were mostly ineffective visualizations based on design criteria – they don’t tend to have a strong visual centre and they don’t lead your eye through the information in a useful way.
Since then, I’ve discovered Wordle.
This cool little web app addresses some of the design issues with word clouds – when I was playing with it, I found that the most important terms really pop, especially when strong colours are used. It’s cool to see that there’s customization available – choosing fonts and colour palettes and alignment options and so on.
Here’s a couple of clouds I made.
This one is built from the titles of the 95 publications that were released by Industry Canada in 2007 and so far in 2008 (Industry Canada is the federal government Department that I work for). Pretty much what I’d expect – “Business” and “Small” and “Canada” and “Canadian” are the big terms. And small business is a big part of what Industry Canada does.
This one is made from the titles of the 71 news releases issued by Industry Canada so far this year. The prominence of the word “BizPal” stands out – but then again there have been a LOT of news releases (27 to be exact) about this program this year. The other thing that pops out are the two verbs, “appointed” and “launched” – decisions were made and things were done…
I didn’t play with the new options for keeping words together, which would definitely change how these clouds look.
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