Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
1 of 77

Data as Seductive Material, Spring Summit, Umeå March09



Talk given as part of Umeå Institute of Design Spring Summit 2009.

Related Books

Free with a 30 day trial from Scribd

See all

Data as Seductive Material, Spring Summit, Umeå March09

  1. 1. Data as seductive material Umeå, Sweden 63º 50’ N 20º 25’E Matt Jones 27.03.09 DOPPLR
  2. 2. Hello! DOPPLR Hello there. I’m Matt Jones, and I’m a designer who amongst other things used to live and work in Helsinki for Nokia working on interface and interaction design. Now I live in London, working on a service called Dopplr.
  3. 3. This is a tiny version of me! The availbot is a small likeness of me that plugs into the USB port of a computer, and when I’m online or chatting to you, it would stand to attention. When I’m not it would fall slack to the table. This gives you some idea of the attention I’m giving our conversation, in the physical space you’re in.
  4. 4. DOPPLR DOPPLR First of all, a little context about what I’m going to talk about - I’m a cofounder and lead designer on Dopplr, which is a social tool for optimising travel.
  5. 5. “Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer's daughter.” Julius Comroe Jr. DOPPLR Our starting point was: could we create a system that increased the happy little coincidences, or serendipty in your life as your travel through the world? This is my favourite definition of Serendipity!
  6. 6. DOPPLR Dopplr looks a bit like this.
  7. 7. DOPPLR Dopplr looks a bit like this.
  8. 8. DOPPLR Raumzeitgeist 2007 Where next? DOPPLR But what I want to talk about today is the possibility of working with data as a material in a ‘designerly’ way. This is an image we generated after about 9 months of Dopplr. It looks like a NASA image of Earth from space - it’s a purely user-generated image where people reported they were travelling to. Which blew us away.
  9. 9. Warning... DOPPLR Now, I have to warn you that this is very much my early thinking about this as a practitioner rather than a theorist or academic. But as Philip Tabor once said - internet is a place for half-formed thoughts. Perhaps this room, and afterwards the discussions we’ll have online can help develop it.
  10. 10. “Sculpting with Data” Boris Anthony Picture by Matt Biddulph DOPPLR My co-designer and colleague Boris Anthony often says that the ongoing act of designing Dopplr is like ‘sculpting with data’ - as opposed to designing wireframes or screens in isolation. Usually we need to work very closely with Matt Biddulph and Tom Insam - who code Dopplr, to discuss and understand what the data we are dealing with will be like, and the risks and opportunities it presents as a material. That was the prompt for this talk, so thanks Boris!
  11. 11. Making the invisible,visible DOPPLR Also, increasingly we are able to see previously invisible behaviours from ‘the real world’ and apply social tools to them. “Anything essential is invisible to the eye” - is the quote from The Little Prince that perhaps technology is reconfiguring. This is “Nuage Vert” - a project in Helsinki (where half of Dopplr are based) wear a laser picks out the pollution coming from a power station. Eerie, beautiful and perhaps, useful to the city...
  12. 12. Data Everyware DOPPLR So - a few pegs to hang this half-formed thought from. The first - we are moving to a world where everything will be throwing off digital data - ‘data shadows’ which words/datashadow.asp tells me was first coined in 1967 by Alan Westin, but was used to great effect in Adam Greenfield’s 2006 book ‘Everyware’
  13. 13. By year end 2012, physical sensors will create 20 percent of non-video internet traffic. Gartner Top 10 Predictions for 2009 DOPPLR What ever you think of analysts like Gartner, the mainstream press and business world pay attention to them. So it’s worth noting when they come out with a statement like this. What interests me about how it’s formulated is that instead of the oft- quoted number of microprocessors that will surround us in a ubicomp near-future: this is framed in terms of internet traffic, specifically media traffic. It speaks to the size of the flow rather than the scope of the coverage.
  14. 14. Physical generation of Digital assets DOPPLR This flow is increasingly coming from the things we own and use
  15. 15. Instrumented cities DOPPLR and the environments we inhabit
  16. 16. ‘quantised self’ -kk DOPPLR Kevin Kelly has started tracking the trend toward ‘personal informatics’ on his blog “The Quantified Self”, and if there’s anyone who can spot a trend...
  17. 17. Photo by edans, Flickr Creative Commons DOPPLR But of course, the most ubiquitous sensor that you carry with you all the time is your phone. They’re increasingly carrying sensors, GPS units and the like - but crucially they get it onto the network.
  18. 18. Personal Sensors Direct reporting Bureaucratic sources Attention Data Sensors in your environment Objects that report to the network This is a framework that my friend Tom Coates formulated for looking at the types of personal ‘data shadow’ we are generating - and now sharing with each other.
  19. 19. Personal Sensors ING HAR S Direct reporting Burea c tic s urc s Attention Data Sensors in your environment Objects that report to the network This is a framework that my friend Tom Coates formulated for looking at the types of personal ‘data shadow’ we are generating - and now sharing with each other.
  20. 20. And here’s one of Tom’s datashadows, his music listening expressed as a visualisation. You can see behaviour exposed here over time. It’s fascinating to compare this stuff with a similar visualisation from a friend of mine. He listens to things in full albums, played in order, and listens intently to one band for a few weeks at a time.
  21. 21. Martin Hilpoltsteiner via DOPPLR And behaviour over time is one of the things that we can have new views or new models of through our technology. More on that later.
  22. 22. Visualisation Everyware DOPPLR Another peg - the rise and rise of data visualisation.
  23. 23. DOPPLR This is work by Stamen Design, one of the leading design studios in data visualisation (who I’m also occasionally an advisor to, to be clear!) It’s something called ‘Trulia Hindsight’, for a real- estate website, showing real-estate transactions for the whole of the 20thC across the USA. It’s an incredible example of how an interactive visualisation can illustrate historic trends and events.
  24. 24. Instrumented world DOPPLR Some more work by Stamen, this time a Hurricane Tracker for MSNBC, dealing with live meteorological data rather than historic data.
  25. 25. Instrumented world DOPPLR The long zoom that’s possible within this visualisation - from the entire atlantic down the level of individual places of habitation is powerful.
  26. 26. Visualisation Culture DOPPLR Information Visualisation is becoming a ‘culture’ or an aesthetic of it’s own. Something that people record, critique and share/ create a literacy in.
  27. 27. Everyone wants a muscle-car DOPPLR This is Google’s “Chrome Experiments”: a site where many prominent data artists and visualisation experts were asked to create pieces that were complex enough to show off the performance of their new browser “Chrome”. They’re shiny pumped-up muscle cars of visualisation!
  28. 28. DOPPLR This is a piece for that by two friends of mine, Sascha Pohflepp and Karsten Schmidt, called Social Collider. It takes the aesthetic of high-energy physics: particle collisions, cloud chambers etc and superimposes that on interconnected social networks in Twitter. It’s beguiling and strains the performance of your browser as per the brief to show something in a much more seductive way that the simple social matrix beneath. http://
  29. 29. DOPPLR And I guess this is where we are - the beginnings of a medium in its own right, that we are developing a literacy in, and a critique of. A milestone in any medium is the publishing of a glossy coffee table art book about it, after all...
  30. 30. Seduction Everyware DOPPLR Final peg - seduction.
  31. 31. “The process of deliberately enticing a person to engage in some sort of behavior, frequently sexual in nature. The word seduction stems from Indo-European roots and means literally quot;to lead astray.quot; As a result, the term may have a positive or negative connotation.” DOPPLR No presentation is complete without the lazy cut-and-paste of a wikipedia definition!
  32. 32. DOPPLR And if I was a lot cleverer I’d bring some of that fancy French philosophy stuff in here, but I’ll leave that to my clever friends hopefully.
  33. 33. DOPPLR But we are reminded by many that there are dangers in making our representations more seductive than the truth.
  34. 34. DOPPLR To make points that aren’t there, or to dramatise the story in the data.
  35. 35. DOPPLR To justify a point of view or disguise a dishonesty
  36. 36. Number of Bad Graphs Duration of Financial Crisis DOPPLR And that’s certainly true at the moment.
  37. 37. DOPPLR But, should we eschew techniques of seduction, the development of an aesthetic?
  38. 38. Isn’t there something thrilling going on. If there is transparency available, structure or process examinable - can you be beguiled? Is it wrong to enjoy being beguiled by data? How can we convey truth in a medium alongside what Liz Goodman of Berkeley School of Information has called “Charismatic images”
  39. 39. Data as Seductive Material DOPPLR Can we explore Data as a seductive material in the same way as stone, wood, metal can be used for beauty as well as structure and commodity? Again, half-formed thoughts follow (perhaps if they are based on the previous half-formed thesis they’re quarter-formed thoughts!) What happens if we look at data through lenses comprised of the sorts of properties we find in precious, seductive physical materials?
  40. 40. Data as Seductive Material Grain & Authenticity DOPPLR Firstly... Grain and authenticity...
  41. 41. DOPPLR
  42. 42. DOPPLR
  43. 43. What is the grain of your data? DOPPLR This is one of the question that we ask in the design process, and something we absolutely have to do as a complete team - in terms of design, technology and often business processes.
  44. 44. Stamen Design “Show everything” DOPPLR Back to the team at Stamen... One of the most intriguing stances they take is quite the opposite of what we’re usually taught in design school - to edit, take away, minimise, simplify. They often ask themselves at the beginning of a design process: “What would happen if we tried to show everything?”
  45. 45. DOPPLR This is a piece by Shawn Allen, also at Stamen - but this is for HIM - he created this as a tool to find good and bad data in the cabspotting visualisation he worked on. This is a tool to find the grain of the data. To refine it.
  46. 46. “House of Cards” by Radiohead Aaron Koblin, James Frost et al.
  47. 47. What is the grain of your data? DOPPLR
  48. 48. Data as Seductive Material Behaviour & Charisma DOPPLR Secondly... Behaviour and ‘charisma’
  49. 49. DOPPLR It seems like there’s something in the air at the moment about reconsidering what we know about influence and persuasion - that we don’t do everything for rational reasons. Something I guess we’ve known individually for millennia, but economics and politics have consider us as rational animals for a few hundred years...
  50. 50. DOPPLR I mentioned the way that Liz Goodman referred to images used in persuasion
  51. 51. DOPPLR
  52. 52. DOPPLR Alongside the power of the image is the power of the feedback loop in persuasion...
  53. 53. Playfulness! “Game mechanics are rule based systems / simulations that facilitate and encourage a user to explore and learn the properties of their possibility space through the use of feedback mechanisms.” Raph Koster DOPPLR
  54. 54. DOPPLR For instance the default setting of the Toyota Prius dashboard showing MPG, not MPH encouraging the ‘game’s win state’ to be lowering the MPG...
  55. 55. FTW! DOPPLR For instance the default setting of the Toyota Prius dashboard showing MPG, not MPH encouraging the ‘game’s win state’ to be lowering the MPG...
  56. 56. DOPPLR A small example from Dopplr...
  57. 57. DOPPLR Here’s my 2008. Must try harder... Though it seems to be trending down...
  58. 58. DOPPLR This is the ‘nudge’
  59. 59. Data as Seductive Material Age & Patina DOPPLR Lastly, age and patina.
  60. 60. DOPPLR I’m very interested in examples of objects or systems that declare their lifespan, their projection into the future, like this simple design touch in Howies Hand-Me-Down jacket of a name tag that encompasses generations. It persuades you the object is precious and will survive to be handed over to a successor. How might we embed that into an interactive, digital, ephemeral thing? What would we want to suggest about the longevity or the impermanence of a data set. Perhaps impermanence of private information - to reassure individuals - or the longevity of public data to reassure groups.
  61. 61. DOPPLR Here’s Trulia Hindsight from Stamen again. This works because of the time span within the data. There are new things you can do once you have enough data of a certain vintage.
  62. 62. 2008 Personal annual report for Barack Obama Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Manchester Boston Washington Kabul Berlin Denver New York Chicago January 05 February 04 June 04 July 20 July 24 August 28 October 16 November 04 You took 234 trips in 2008, which In 2008, you spent added up to 337,729 km or 92% of the distance to the moon. 133 233 In 2008, you mostly coincided with: You have 4 travellers in your network. They travelled a total of 657,789 km in 2008, and everyone on Dopplr Joe travelled a total of 1331.4 million km or 8.9 AU in 2008: the approximate distance to Saturn from the Earth as including Des Moines and Washington of January 2009. John Your personal velocity for 2008 was 38.10 including Peterborough and Washington Your carbon for 2008 km/h, which is about the same as a You spent the most time in Chicago. Lauren six-lined race runner lizard. Kurtz has a tip: “The Publican. Amazing beer Michelle list and melt in your mouth food. In the Fulton The 5 most popular cities in your network are including Washington and Detroit Market area.” Washington, Columbus, Cincinnati, Denver and Miami. Sarah in Columbus The furthest distance you travelled was to Kabul (11,211 km from Chicago), which is the 829th most 42,299 kg CO2 (4.2 Hummers) popular city on Dopplr. The shortest distance you Based on figures from, 1 x Hummer travelled was to Oregon (6 km from Toledo). H3 4WD truck produces nearly 10 metric tonnes of CO2 a year. The visualisation above uses this figure to illustrate your carbon from Dopplr as calculated by our friends at and is an approximation only. The city images above sourced from Flickr and are used under a Creative Commons Attr bution Licence: Sunset on the Charles by Pear Biter, Pennsylvania Ave - Old Post Office to the Capitol at Night by wyntuition, we'll meet again by chaosinjune, Colorado State Additional imagery by Flickr users: Gongus, Matthias Winkelmann, Wendy Piersall, Spotbott and Beard Papa DOPPLR For instance, we were able to create a personal annual report for all of our users on Dopplr once we had our first full calendar year of their data to reflect back to them in what was hopefully an interesting way. Can we think of data as a material having different poroperties as it ‘ages’ and accumulates, and design accordingly?
  63. 63. DOPPLR So... alongside considering the timespan or age of our data, we can think about the ‘patina’ of data that it gathers over that time. What do I mean by “patina”? Whether it’s dog-eared pages of books
  64. 64. DOPPLR Our tools... (this is bruce sterling’s keyboard)
  65. 65. DOPPLR Or paths in our public spaces... use is revealed through wear- and-tear. The patina.
  66. 66. DOPPLR Layering of new information on information, metadata - is of course is nothing new.
  67. 67. DOPPLR This is a map from the collection of the National Maritime Museum, where successive explorers annotated new opportunities, theories and obstacles on the same map over several expeditions over the course of several years.
  68. 68. DOPPLR Media doesn’t need to interpret use as damage. Our content itself gets smarter as it aggregates our thoughts about it. This is the Archimedes Palimpsest. I think the palimpsest as a model for social tools is a powerful one. Of course they originated from the scarcity of media, something we don’t exactly suffer. But thinking about the medium as something that accretes messages in the way they did helps me. I also just like saying it. Palimpsest!
  69. 69. DOPPLR Raumzeitgeist 2007 Where next? DOPPLR We can build up palimpsests of data, and we can represent patina of use in interesting and beautiful ways.
  70. 70. DOPPLR When we expose these previously invisible patterns in social software - what feedbacks happen?
  71. 71. Visualisation Data Everyware Everyware Data as Seduction Seductive Everyware Material DOPPLR So this is I guess the half-formed conclusion of my half-formed thoughts...
  72. 72. Data as Precious Material? DOPPLR This is a strange concept, perhaps. It maybe contradictory in the face the abundance of data we experience. But I guess our data is only made precious by our interactions with it? The meaning we make with it, both as designers, and as users of what others have designed.
  73. 73. Einar Sneve Martinussen, Timo Arnall and Jørn Knutsen DOPPLR And as designers it’s imperative that we learn to investigate data as a material in a critical and designerly way - as we would with physical materials.
  74. 74. DOPPLR With the mastery and assistance of experts and with intuitions one can only get from working closely with it.
  75. 75. Making the invisible, tangible + precious DOPPLR So that we can bring both sense and sensuality to a new world of pervasive data.
  76. 76. DOPPLR Thanks for your attention.
  77. 77. Thanks! DOPPLR DOPPLR DOPPLR Thanks for your attention. Where next? Where next? Where next?