Data Visualization is the next frontier in online awesomeness

There are two online movements that are really get me excited these days (especially when they are used together). The first thing is ‘behavior generated content’ – the art of making personalized content based not on a users active creativity  but on logging a users behavior and create a structured format.  Wrote a blog post about it some time ago – check it here (personal note: it needs updating…).  The second thing is data visualization. The art of taking data and structuring it in a way that makes the data entertaining or informational. There are an increasing amount of sites, shows and companies that make excellent use of this.  Here are a few:

  • Mint.com (amazing company that slurps the data from your bank transactions and make interesting and informative graphs for you to enjoy – or improve your financial decision making with.
  • CNN (cant help put think they made great use of their electoral board. They managed to take boring election data interesting and informative – see picture here:
  • Jonathan Harris. (Visualization artist. Amazing guy who did some really cool data visuals for the Moma Exhibition Creativity and the elastic mind. His talks on Ted are also really cool. Watch them here.
  • Mashable’s cool collection of datavisual projects: http://mashable.com/2008/11/24/data-visualizations/
  • Doplr did an super cool behavior generated content meets data visuals project at the end of the year. They are slupring my travel data from my google calender and send me this rapport. Note that I had not done anything else than giving them access to my travels. A great example of things to go. Click here for full image doplr
  • My two favorite blogs about the subject is infosthetics.com and visualcomplexity.com
  • And…. since everyone seems to be heading to South by SouthWest.. Here is a cool twitter data visualization project – much respect to slash7.com who did this:  http://pepsicozeitgeist.com/

Expect to see great things in this field – I for one is looking forward.


Forget Google Maps Mashups - the next big mashup is people and computers

I read the Singularity is near a few years ago and thought it was really mind provoking. In this book Kurzweil argues two main things (or at least mine major takeways):

a) development of tech is exponential and thus we cant really imagine what is just around the corner

b) the natural next step of human development is the convergence between man and machine.

Now, most people I speak to about this subject are pretty skeptical. Either they dont believe that the technology will develop that quickly – or they dont believe that people will adapt and feel confetable with such a close relationship with non organic enhancements to the body. What I dont think they notice is how quickly this new form of interaction between man and computer is happing. Just over the last two years a few core product developments has made me think that Kurzweil vision will happen.

It started with the fingerprint scanner on laptops. Little notice did it get, but it was really the first step in reinventing interfacing with computers for the mass market. Via the fingerprint, a user could  communicate their identity quicker than via keyboard and mouse. It was easy and convenient and most users found it quite intuitive. Since then several of the airports I fly to now offers eye scans as a quick way to make sure that you are allowed in the country. It makes my life easier and so I and many others do it. Next step in the consumer segment was the iPhone, that educated the mass market that touching your phone, tapping pictures and turning it around to see a picture differnetly format was really much more intuative. What is really happening is that the computer is adapting to humas. Its the art of warpping technology around human behavior and interaction.

In the meantime the military is already flying planes and doing operations with robotic arms 1000s of miles away from where the human are controlling these. Security companies are operating ‘biochips‘ into the body of their employees and the always clever people at MIT are taking mobile computing and user interfaces to the next level. (this video of what MIT is up to is a must see: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/481 )

So, for me at least, its clear that the path to a much closer relationship between technology and users have already begun. While I understand that people get concerned about the concept, I think steps mentioned above shows that its actually not that scary and makes our life easier, safer and more enjoyable.


Is that magic in your pocket?

Been helping a few friends on a small little pet project the last few month called MobileMagic. The idea was to create a social app on the iPhone, but where the social interaction was ‘around’ the phone not ‘on’ the phone. The result is an cute magic trick that you can show you friends/date/kids. You dont need any special skills but it will for sure amaze whoever you try it on. So please try it out and let me know what you think.

For the the link to the app in Itunes – press here.