A few of my favourite things (part 1)

20 December 2014

Here are a few bits and pieces that I discovered this year and enjoyed especially. In Part 1: Artivism, Coding, Data Visualisation, Language, Journalism, Technology and Women in Tech.

Art as activism

There’s many, many more out there - here are just a few of my favourites.

Not a bug splat

  • Above: Not A Bug Splat, a giant art installation that targets predator drone operators, is a really powerful example of art as political activism, and created by an artist collective in Pakistan and the US.
  • @blprnt started collecting some great examples of data/ethics/privacy art projects in this list.
  • Hack the Art World was a great response to Google’s efforts at “DevArt”.
  • People quote people is an interesting play on the notion of ‘authorship’ and accreditation. By Paolo Cirio, who has a lot of other great art/activism projects.

Coding

There are lots of collections of these, so I’m not going to start a new one here; instead, just a couple of my favourites, that I actually used this year.

Data visualisation

I really hadn’t realised how much I look out for, and really admire, good data visualisations. Generally, they fall into one of two categories: ones which highlight issues that would otherwise be all too easy to ignore; or, those making complicated information more understandable.

Graphic Methods of Presenting Facts
  • Data visualisation has been around for a lot longer than I had thought: here’s a book from 1914, available in full to read online, full of visualisation tips, called “Graphic methods for presenting facts.” Hurray for the Internet Archive!
  • I still can’t look at this without getting a lump in my throat: the most heart-wrenching map I’ve ever seen, with videos, letters, and messages from the families of the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico. Aptly called ‘Geografia del Dolor’, or Geography of Pain.
  • This map shows places where publicly available food can be found in Germany- like places to pick fruit, find nuts, or wild herbs. I’ve yet to try it out, but I’m looking forward to doing so.
  • There’s no shortage of visualisations of maps, but here are some especially pretty ones: city maps coloured by street orientation., by Stephen Von Worley. Turns out that Berlin is beautifully angled! (Below - Tempelhoferfeld)

Berlin Map

  • This post on Slow Travel Berlin has lots of links and images of how Berlin’s transit system has been visualised since it was created - it’s a fascinating read, especially if you know the city.
  • Not strictly data visualisation, but I can imagine for people living in New York there’s hours of fun to be had with this map portal, which provides over 20,000 historical maps free to download + remix.
  • Again, not strictly data viz - but this is a beautiful exercise, getting you to identify cities by their light signature. by Rose Eveleth for Nautilus..
  • A great collection of physical interpretations of data through history.

Language

Monkey Sounds

Design

I’m no designer - so, wherever I can, I try to keep an eye out for things that will make my life easier.

  • I discovered the brilliant Font Awesome this year, and haven’t stopped using it since. A completely free set of icons, provided through one font.
  • Ditto for the Noun Project for more specific icons - they have a great range, and lots available in the public domain.
  • Beautiful Web Type - a curated selection of the best Google web fonts, by Chad Mazzola.

Videos

This year, I tried for the first time to experiment with new formats of conveying messages or explaining concepts, for example with Lego stop motion vidoes, or Vines, and I discovered that (unsurprisingly) it all took a lot longer than I had thought. Here are some examples of videos made by people who have mastered the art of explaining complicated concepts in clever ways!

Journalism

Mainly lists of resources, and a couple of articles. I also love that lots of people who are giving data journalism courses at universities are making their course syllabus/materials available online.

Technology articles

Women in Tech

To my discomfort, most of these articles are from US-based writers. I’d love to read more from people based in other parts of the world, writing on the topic of women in technology - please send me recommendations of people or blogs to follow!


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