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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- Turning the tables on the Sochi Winter Olympics, this site created some new sports and prizes for people who benefited from the most expensive Winter Olympics of all time. A playful and accessible way of highlighting corrupt practices, made by the Anti Corruption Foundation.
- A project highlighting what public transport networks actually look like for those with limited accessibility; from a group that work on urban planning, data visualisation and mapping based in Hamburg, check out their blog at Mappable.info.
- The Migrants Files, bringing together data on people who have died on their way to Europe. A project on Detective.io, by J++.
- This interactive circle plot showing migration flows, is great, and there’s also a version specifically for migration in Germany, too. By Nikola Sander and Ramon Bauer.
- Infographic on How powerful is your passport showing clearly the travel freedom that holders of different passports enjoy.
- The incredible journey of a broken TV, traced via GPS from Germany to Ghana. More than anything, this highlights how broken our society’s relationship is with hardware.[de]
- I imagine this would only be a really interesting piece if you were already a little interested in the topic - which I am, so it’s great. A scrolly, data-driven piece from Guardian Global Development, on global remittances..
- 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)
- 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.
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.
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!
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.
- “No, Nate, brogrammers may not be macho, but that’s not all there is to it” - I love this piece by Zeynep Tufekci on gender and tech, and not just because she quotes Dr Seuss.
- A great post, which I’ve referred to multiple times this year, on the metaphors used in email encryption + how this affects people’s use of it, by Arvind Narayanan. I’m a big fan generally of the Freedom to Tinker blog, too.
- On the problems of data on sexual violence in conflict, by Maya Ganesh
- On research into gratitude and “thanks technologies”, by Nate Matias.
- On data ethics in urban planning - The City is not a Lab, by Leah Meisterlin
- On Legitimacy, Place and the Anthropology of the Internet, by Sarah Kendzior.
- The Living with Data series on Al Jazeera America, a “field guide to the data and algorithms that shape our world”, by Sara M. Watson.
- The reading list from the Ethics of Data in Civil Society conference, held earlier this year at Stanford, is pretty full of thoughtful pieces.
- Recommended resources and reading from the “Digitally Connected” event hosted by the Berkman Center and UNICEF.
- A gorgeous graphic novel on big data + privacy, by Michael Keller.
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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