Posts filed under ‘Data’

Data to people: London data store, freeing data for social purposes like education

As mentioned in previous posts like the one on “opening raw data”, concept that was put forward by Tim Berners Lee in his Ted Talk: “The Year the Data went Worldwide”[2010] and made real by institutions like Google with their Google Public Data Explorer ; there are public institutions like the Greater London Authority [GLA] that have started the quest of freeing their data to democratize the utilization of it. They indicate that their intention is not only to make data accessible to the public sector but to common citizens, or “netizens” [Hauben, “Netizens: on the history and impact of Usenet and the Internet” 1997], which entail those networked online citizens that are avid to make changes on their communities over the web. This is a frequent concept in magazines like “The Economist“, when they refer to the empowerment of oppressed communities through the social networking. Nonetheless, empowerment comes to anyone when looking to freeing data to the people. The London Data Store is an interesting platform that combines the benefits of crowdsourcing or grouping social intelligence to understand huge social problems, with a friendly visual interface that allows the users to understand and negotiate thesis that can raise from diverse data connection. It also provides the grounding to “make questions to the data” in different ways, and to put it forward to resolve social issues. One example of this is the mapping of the “under representation of certain groups in higher education”, which combines statistical data with geographical mapping coming from a GIS platform.

If we do it, we want others to do it too, says the GLA: “GLA is committed to influencing and cajoling other public sector organisations into releasing their data here too”. This is a first step to a greater democratization of social innovation.

June 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

Know your onions, why the digital humanities should give more relevance to the end-user

Pic: Maite Otondo‘s graduate project at PUC

During a Skype call we held with John Unsworth, dean of the graduate school of Library and Information Sciences of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign he highlighted that one of the “missions” of library sciences should be to focus on the information retrieval. Yet, when he says this he indicates that it should be in more ambitious ways. When we deal with the retrieval of information we need to think in who is retrieving and what for.

Even though a humanities study the human condition, the digital humanities, generally, seems to pay little attention to whom they are framing information for. (more…)

April 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm Leave a comment

What is interaction? I mean, what is designing interactions?

PIC: Robert Fabricant [Frog Design]
Discussion always arises when we talk about contested terminologies across disciplines. One of these is the term “interaction”. In a period when everybody is talking about designing interactions, we should ask ourselves from which disciplinary background is that person talking from.

In their essay “Multimedia” Geoffrey Rockwell and Andrew Mactavish, from the Digital Humanities, refer to the idea that multimedia is inherently interactive because it ‘Weaves the multiplicity into a whole’. According to them, computer programming in multimedial structures configure how the viewer will experience the relationship with a computer. Having multiple layers of experience grouped into one holistic interaction is one of the things that characterize multimedia.

Robert Fabricant – Behavior is our Medium from Interaction Design Association on Vimeo.

But in the design field: what do we mean with interaction? Nowadays, we could argue that interactions are not just happening in computers [Davis, 2008]. They have transcended. The new context definition for design, which makes it turn from technical to strategic, and the redirection of the role in design seeking to address systems instead of artifacts; gives us grounding to indicate that today designers are addressing social interactions.

In a broader sense, interactions are said to frame the relationship between people and a variety of artifacts like products & systems, which convey the aspect of function, which has always been part of design [Dubberly, Pangaro & Haque, 2009]. Interactions entail classic feedback loops that allow one system to modify the other and (more…)

February 7, 2011 at 2:25 pm Leave a comment

Digital Humanities: The dialogue between the Geeks and the Poets

PIC: NY Times
Not long ago, the NY Times published the article: “Digital Keys for Unlocking the Humanities’ Riches”. The article mentions the technological exploration of data coming from the humanities under an alliance between what Patricia Cohen calls: The Geeks and the Poets. Upfront, Cohen faces the audience with a bold statement when using the word: unlocking. This idea is pretty strong. The knowledge coming from the humanities seemed to have been “locked”, being a privilege reserved for some savvy scholars.

Today, we live in an era where we, simple individuals, have become very sensible for information. And this seems to be an increasing trend for about fifteen years now. With the rise of the open source technologies and the availability of raw and public data on the net, every human has the right to take well-informed decisions. In another article from the NY Times “A Data Driven Life” Gary Wolf explores the idea of ordinary individuals getting interested in plain data. I make this link in order to intensify my idea that, today, broader audiences are interested in being well informed. This information can be personal tracking for taking decisions, or simply going to “shop” for information on the web. There is a phenomenon of “Data Democratization” happening and the humanities can’t be left behind. (more…)

February 2, 2011 at 5:47 am 3 comments

Public Data Explorer Google- Open public data for decision making

PIC: Image from Google Public Data Explorer.

There is already a lot of research in the social sciences [statistical orientation] that yields raw data for further analysis and decision making. Thanks to the exponential growth of the Internet, there is plenty of this data available for us, simple mortals, to use for answering our own research questions. This type of data has also the potential to be used for decision making in the realm of public policies. In a previous post, we had talked about Hans Rosling and his “Gapminder” , an interactive tool for statistical data exploration [structured data]. Today, I would like to put upfront the example of the Public Data Explorer from Google. Not too late ago, Google bought “Trendalyzer”, a data analysis tool from Gapminder and made this tool even more public. Ola Rosling, Hans’ son, talks about the tool in the following video:

But not only that, the abilities of this new “Public Data Explorer” allows common individuals to explore easily large public data sets [coming from: UN, OECD, WORLD BANK, ETC] by giving them as a default, tools to visualize and communicate this information interactively. Data becomes more accessible and universal. Give it a try.

October 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm 1 comment

Personal data tracking-self-management or paranoia?

With the democratization of the technologies in the web, data has become an important issue not only for researchers but also for ordinary people. The article: “A Data Driven Life”, published by the NY Times on April 2010, shows how individuals go tracking their own lives in order to make better and informed decisions [even though some times it makes them more paranoid than anything else]. The article talks about several examples taking place mostly in the US. One of these cases is, which is a popular forum where individuals log in data in order to get answers to some of their health problems. There is estimation that individuals launch more than 30,000 tracking projects every month [Gary Wolf, 2010].

Or what about “Daytum”, created by Nick Feltron, a kind of “Google Analytics” [stats for website/blog tracking] for your OWN PERSONAL DATA. Is a platform that allows you to collect, categorize and communicate your data in very visuals way. (more…)

October 1, 2010 at 12:01 am Leave a comment

Tim Berners Lee- Democratizing raw data to tackle social issues

Videos have subtitles/ videos con subtítulos

Tim Berners-Lee
, the creator of the World Wide Web, in his 2009 TED talk called ON THE NEXT WEB, indicated that opening data to ordinary people might be the answer to major problems we face in society, such as health or economy. He was referring to liberating linked “raw” data collected by governments, scientists and communities. The major claim he does is:

“Open your raw data now”

[read it thinking on the John Lennon’s song “Power to the People”]
On 2010, he gave another TED talk: THE YEAR THE DATA WENT WORLDWIDE, but this time; he showed what individuals did with that disseminated raw data. The examples he showed had to do with individuals picking up that (more…)

May 12, 2010 at 2:39 pm 2 comments

contact + citing (CC license)

Constanza Miranda PhD(c) design.anthro
* Currently @ DILAB
* Ex.VR @ Stanford's Center for Design Research [DesignXLab]
* Ex.Instructor @ PUC Chile [Design+Engineering]
Use citations ¡Citar es ético!
Creative Commons License
Design for Social Innovation initiative by Constanza Miranda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at