What big data can tell, if properly visualized

Posted on June 30, 2012  /  0 Comments

WSJ has a piece on big data.

“It’s not unlike a microscope—taking something you can’t see and bringing it into the scale of perception,” Aaron Koblin, 30, told me at lunch in Google’s San Francisco office. He’s head of the company’s Data Arts Team.

Mr. Koblin’s work sits right on the line between art and information. The shimmery tiles in eCloud, his installation at San Jose International Airport, change from opaque to transparent depending on the global weather data they’re receiving. His New York Talk Exchange project visualizes the volume of long-distance telephone and Internet data between New York and other cities, revealing New Yorkers’ relationships with the world.

He has temporally mapped text messages, too, in Amsterdam and New York. “You really understand a lot about cities from flows, when people are awake and doing what things at what locations,” says Mr. Koblin. “And you can say, people in Brooklyn tend to get up later than people in Manhattan.”

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