Day 1 of Data Visualisation-Present day and Open Data
The class began with a reading of a book named “The Medium is the Massage” by Marshall McLuhan. The book’s title was supposed to be “The Medium is the Message” trying to highlight how mediums are the message themselves. However, after the printing company made the mistake of printing “Massage” instead of “Message”, he let it be. The reasoning behind is said to be how the word “Massage” gives a clear idea of how technology makes people think in a certain manner.
The book, written in 1967, is a surprise as it touches upon the functionality and purpose of today’s technology. The following lines seem like a description of the internet and the very nature of it that keeps information on everyone forever:
New methods of instantaneous electric information retrieval, by the electrically computerized dossier bank — that one big gossip column that is unforgiving, unforgetful and from which there is no redemption, no erasure of early “mistakes.”
Many other points such as the mentions of getting opinions on things from people around the world and how children who have grown up with technology think seem right at point. I think they might have seemed absurd when read at the time of publishing but now it is part of our reality.
This book touched upon impact of technology on jobs, government and many other things that it is easy to forget that they were thoughts of a person who wrote them five decades ago.
We looked at a Ted talk by Hasan Elahi, an American media artist. In 2002, he was detained at an airport as the US government had mistakenly listed him on terrorist watch list. Fortunately, he was a man who kept detailed records of his actions and was able to convince of his innocence. However, he knew that his situation would remain the same. From that point onwards, he made his life an open book. He logged his activities and location on a website with photograph. Now with over 20,000 images on, the website became a documentation of his whole life for the world to see.
The documentation is detailed and it made me aware of the term known as “Surveillance Art”. I think it is the context of the country that matters, as I believe that privacy and surveillance have not been one of the main concern in India. One day, it might be the case for us but for now we get to learn about different points of concerns by looking at the other countries’ journey of technological development.
Last thing, we looked at was a project named “Dear Data”. The following lines are from their websites:
Dear Data is a year-long, analog data drawing project by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, two award-winning information designers living on different sides of the Atlantic.
Each week, and for a year, we collected and measured a particular type of data about our lives, used this data to make a drawing on a postcard-sized sheet of paper, and then dropped the postcard in an English “postbox” (Stefanie) or an American “mailbox” (Giorgia)!
This project seemed simple but it taught me how data can be scrapped from observations and presented in a visually engaging manner. The project seemed interesting as it made data about the life of a complete stranger interesting to me. It speaks volumes of how powerful data can be. It has now been turned into 300 pages book and I guess it will let the readers know the power of data with each page that they turn.
I also had certain doubts such as why they couldn’t have mailed the data, instead of sending it as postcards.
I guess I will get the answers to them with time after I look more into them.