What do you get when you combine 350 talented informationatiers from all over the world into a cozy Minneapolis, Minnesota school campus for a few days? Lot’s of info being beautifully thrown about. But there is one particular aspect I’d like to draw attention to. I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with I / O. The rhythms of the inaugural Eyeo Festival were filled with the wonderful patterns and potential of how information can be communicated through the world’s (and particularly SparkFun’s) detection and delivery systems of inputs and outputs. To put it simply, everyone will soon have access to detect and communicate information in any way they choose. The tools are available now (Arduino, MakerBot, OpenFrameworks, and Processing were highlighted at Eyeo), but I say soon because the tools are not yet quite readily affordable or accessible with a day’s training. Still takes considerable effort to muster something original without prior experience.
What does this mean for the visualization community? There were several topics covered at the conference, but this emerging commercialization of custom information tools seemed the most unsaid. It’s simply the air you’re breathing. However, I do think the quality here is an interesting shift and a powerful one.
Visualizing data is the practice of revealing the essence or the integrity of information in truthful, compelling graphical form. Of the many variables at play here, the source data itself is paramount. At Eyeo Wes Grubbs eloquently put it, “No data; no maky”, to reenforce the fact that as visualizers we can’t visualize imaginary data. Sourcing data from inputs is nothing new. In fact, its the only way it’s ever been done. I do believe, however, new mainstream interactions will emerge. In the next few years, we’ll see more diy lego blocks available. Only, instead of 5 year olds building play houses, high-schoolers and up will be creating new real world games, tools, and environmental annotations. Explore some of these great resources and start moving towards the world you want to see. Excited to see it. Excited to keep on creating it.