Monday, 30 April 2012

Book - Information Graphics


Information graphics are the subject to a brand new Taschen publication Information Graphics that is bringing complicated data made understandable through brilliant designs to a strong coffee table near you. The book is colourful with strong visual guidance, large, very large and heavy, some 480 pages heavy. As this outline shows, its a bold publication that doesn't hide behind all the various examples of graphic design, but provides a tasteful framework to showcase the many awesome examples of data narratives.

Cover Information Graphics
Image taken from aestheticsofjoy by Stephanie Posavec / Writing without words exploring possibilities to visually represent text.

Of course info graphics are currently trending and one of the most talked and specially passed around topic, not only online but more recently also in the media. All the large media houses have a special information design group and the publication showcases a number of these examples. In this context the book is not the first such collection of good designed information, but certainly one of the boldest in a positive sense.
The publication is edited by Julius Wiedemann und features contributions by Sandra Rendgen, Richard Saul Wurman, Simon Rogers from the Guardian Data Blog and Paolo Ciuccarelli. This is a very interesting team Taschen has put together for this publication with, whilst still being information specialists, covering a broad spectrum of perspectives and expertise.

NYT Historic Shift NYT Historic Shift
Image taken from dynamicdiagrams by NYT / Interactive visualisation showing the changes in election results over the period 2006-2010. Find the interactive version at NYT

Where other publications, for examples Data Flow by Gestalten, Otto Neurat by NAi or indeed Edward Tufte focus on the context of the graphics, the theoretical background of narrating information as well as the actual teaching of how to present information the Taschen publication is a showcase. It is foremost about showing great examples from a variety of sources on how to visualise data sets graphically in mainly 2D. There are a few web based, animated or interactive examples too though. This takes into account that complexity showing in these graphics is continually rising.

Husevaag Escape Routes Husevaag Escape Routes
Image by Torgeir Husevaag / Escape Routes, 2010-2011. A series of drawing studying possibilities of spatial movement under given time constraints. On the left the map and on the right a detail of some of the blue shaded location sixth path details

Showcasing such a large collection of examples is tricky in that the ordering system as to how the examples are organised becomes very prominent and therefore important. Here the editor has decided to go with a very low number of groups to arrange the info graphics. Where other publications make an exercise out of inventing a whole new system to clarify and characterise the examples this one takes the simple approach. This both refreshingly straight forward and annoyingly rough. What do the chosen terms Location, Time, Category and Hierarchy actually describe, or more importantly how are they distinguished?
The questions remain unanswered however, this does not stand in the way to enjoy the great quality and variety this collection shows. Its a book to brows, jump and flip, a publication you will keep in reach for a long time and always go back to to enjoy or indeed recharge your design batteries.

Cover Information Graphics
Image by Taschen / Book cover Information Graphics.


Rendgen, S., 2012. Information Graphics J. Wiedemann, ed., Köln: Taschen GmbH.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Conference - CASA Smart Cities: bridging physical and digital


CASA is running a one day conference under the title CASA Smart Cities: bridging physical and digital. The title basically explains the aim of the event and besides a exciting line up of speakers with interesting projects there is also an exhibition with interactive installations.

Pigeon Sim
Image by Dr George MacKerron / Pigeon Sim, how to navigate the flight icons.

As the Keynote speaker Professor Carlo Ratti, Director, Senseable City Lab, MIT is invited. Other speakers include: Professor Michael Batty, Chairman, CASA, Professor of Planning; Dr Andy Hudson-Smith, Director and Head of Department, CASA; CASA researchers including Richard Milton, Oliver O’Brien, Dr James Cheshire, Steven Gray, Dr George MacKerron, Dr Jon Reades, Dr Joan Serras and Dr Duncan Smith


Pigeon Sim
Image by CASA / Conference flyer.

This event is supported by CASA research grants: ANALOGIES (EPSRC), COSMIC (ERA-NET), GENeSIS (ESRC) and TALISMAN (ESRC, NCRM).

The four main aspects of the conference are:
Find out about groundbreaking research being carried out at CASA, with talks covering crowd-sourcing and participatory mapping, sensing using social media and experience sampling, data dashboards, public transport, public bike schemes and more. Explore a brand new interactive exhibition, showcasing some of CASA’s latest models and maps. Meet and network with academic, public and private sector attendees during coffee breaks, a catered lunch, and an evening drinks reception. Find out more about the courses we offer at CASA.

The Programm can be found HERE. Registration is on http://casasmartcities.eventbrite.co.uk/. The Twitter hashtag for this conference is #casaconf.

The exhibition part will include some exciting experimental interactive media installations. In Pigeon Sim the visitor can fly around Google Earth, navigating by flapping the arms, there are simulations running interactively on touch tables and also the live London Dashboard installation is on display.

NCL_3DPhModel02
Image by urbanTick for NCL / The 3D London NCL model.

Some of the Twitter work is on display too. The analogue Tweet-O-Meter, last on show at the British Library will be installed and a a 3D physical model of the London New City Landscape map will be on display. This model was layered from the contour lines and includes the labels and tag. With it some of the aNCL network clips will be on display, showing the connective aspects of the data. In these clips other cities than London will also be on show to extend on the perspective.

NCL_3DPhModel01
Image by urbanTick for NCL / The 3D London NCL model.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Gamma After Life


What kind of nuclear future awaits us? The recent discussion on the next generation of nuclear power has ebbed away much too quickly. However especially in the UK a public discussion would be much needed with the current plants becoming out of date and a urgent requirement to either decommission them and replace or refurbish to keep going.

The afterlife of nuclear power, being it military or civil usage is however, a much undiscussed topic. It is a field of uncertainties and projections. A whole range of interesting problems are associated with it, not the least the dramatic time span it covers. See also a post on http://urbantick.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/message-to-future.html. How to plan for 10'000 years?

Gamma
Image by Factory Fifteen taken from architizer taken from Dezeen / A vision of the post nuclear city.

Many futures are possible and Factory Fifteen has produced a short on their vision, quite a disturbing one but amazingly produced, mixing some CGI and real footage.

The Synopsis of the film in short: In a post-nuclear future, when the earth is riddled with radiation, a new urban developer proposes to regenerate the cities back into civilisation. GAMMA sets out to stabilise the atomic mistakes of yesteryear for the re-inhabitation of future generations. Using its patented 'Nuke-Root' technology; part fungi, part mollusc, GAMMA intends to soak up the radiation and remove it from the irradiated cities, rebuilding them in the process.
Setting out from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, GAMMA launches its RIG_01 BETA and heads east to the iconic disaster sites of 1980's USSR. The film follows a group of researchers investigating GAMMA's practice from launch to deployment. Moving through a trail of unsuccessful ships across the desert, we follow the researchers from Aralsk's littered sea bed east to the Ukraine.

GAMMA begins its quest of nuclear stability in the Ukraine; Pripyat is used as a test bed for the deployment of GAMMA's patented 'Nuke-root' organisms. Intended to soak up the radiation, the roots infiltrate the ground and built structures to absorb the ‘nuclear nasty's'. As with many urban developers, GAMMA's execution is cheap and ineffective. The city is in turn rendered more radioactive, broken and uninhabitable than before, only now with an outbreak of growing 'Nuke-roots'. The film follows the researchers through the ruins of the 70's utopia, moving across a whole city that consists solely of desolation and total abandon, the researchers witness the aftermath of GAMMA's almighty cock-up.