Back in 2015, Jessica Broscheit, Hannes Sieg and myself created a tumblr blog to collect thoughts on urban storytelling, data driven narratives and visualisation of urban data, digital and tangible designs as well as art installations in urban spaces. All this related to research into data driven storytelling, open government data, knowledge discovery in databases (KDD), rapid prototyping and design thinking.
Since we all moved on, completed our research and are now involved in subsequent or different projects, no more content has been added to urban-storytelling.com for quite some time. In addition to the latest developments around tumblr and yahoo it makes no sense for me to keep the content up, so I cancelled the domain and closed the urban storytelling blog on tumblr for good.
Some of the content can be found on this website, but most posts were just links to interesting stuff related to urban storytelling, urban data, visualisations, map technology and data journalism. The links might be useful in the future and maybe I will put a post containing a list of them at some point.
As mentioned before, Jessica Broscheit is conducting a workshop about air quality and urban data at the Creative Space for Technical Innovations at Hamburg’s University of Applied Sciences. It’s called “How Will We Breathe Tomorrow” and is part of the A/D/A Hamburg 2016, a conference about future utopias for today’s urban citizen. During the workshop people can learn about government efforts to collect and share air quality data in open government data platforms and develop their own air quality monitoring device to experiment with visual, haptic and acoustic ways to explore data.
Last year I worked with Jessica Broscheit und Hannes Sieg on another project within the “Next Media” master program at the University of Applied Sciences Hamburg (HAW Hamburg), called “Air Mask”. It involved research into air quality data and open government data platforms and lead to the development of a design fiction prototype of an air mask used for monitoring environmental data.
The collected data can be compared globally through a developed standardisation process and local air quality data was visualised on the mask itself in an easy to understand 3-colored alarm system. Just recently, Jessica created a website to document these projects.
Recently I wrote about data-driven journalism and whether it is worth the effort in regards to their monetisation potential for publishing companies. Although there are definitely great and interesting stories to be told with large data sets, it seems unlikely that the immense costs involved in the process of creating these stories can be justified within the current framework of digital business models within the publishing industry.
Still many data-driven stories and corresponding data visualisations seem interesting (e.g. in form of infographics) or even insanely beautiful (e.g. in form of maps or graphs). There is one problem with some kind of data visualisations in terms of storytelling though: they tell no story.
Consider the prominent visualisations of the 311 calls in the city of New York for instance. Although immensely beautiful and acknowledged by design experts around the globe, it’s hard to find any substantial story within the data or its visualisations. As shown above a plot of 311 calls by time of day with different colors for different types of complaints surely leads to a beautiful image, but there is no real story behind it.
The facts that there are more calls during the day, complaints about street condition seem to drop during the night and noise complaints are on the rise during the evening are hardly surprising. Even if these calls are plotted on a map, an attempt also explored with the 311 data, things do not get more interesting.
DISCLAIMER:This post has been written for the seminar “Online and Mobile Media” during an international research exchange at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, within the “Next Media” master program at the University of Applied Sciences Hamburg (HAW Hamburg) in 2016. For more information or any questions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The artists of rAndom International created a pretty impressive “rain room” at London’s Barbican arts center in 2012, incorporating 3d tracking cameras and a water management system to keep any visitor dry while walking through the rain.
“Rain Room is a hundred square metre field of falling water through which it is possible to walk, trusting that a path can be navigated, without being drenched in the process.
As you progress through the space the sound of water and a suggestion of moisture fill the air, before you are confronted by this carefully choreographed downpour that responds to your movements and presence.”