Category Archives: Random Musings

Maker Movement – Big Data Meets Sculpture

A few weeks ago I attended ‘field.work‘ an event arranged by Havas who’ve just published some of the keynotes and breakout sessions. Nathalie Miebach spoke at the event, an artist who “translates science data into sculpture, installation and musical scores”. Here’s one of Nathalie’s sculptures.

Natalie Miebach Data Sculpture

A sculpture by Nathalie Miebach based on weather data.

Insights ‘stand out’ in 3D models

At first look I found this an impenetrable ball of wires and flags — not a sculpture I’d necessarily want to display and admire (and definitely not dust!). However, when Nathalie started to talk through the data points that she’d used, and how she’d constructed the sculpture piece by piece, it took on new meaning.

Natalie starts to build her sculptures using a timeline basis – imagine a clock face representing duration as the foundations. From there, she takes other data such as high tides, low tides, peak and trough temperatures etc. and builds these out from the timeline to create a 3D object. What I found most interesting was that in a 3D object, the anomalies were far more evident than they were within the report she was using as the basis, they literally ‘stood out’ (or sank back).

Kinesthetic learning provides tangible highlights and lowlights

Much of our earliest learning is by ‘doing’ rather than sitting, listening and transcribing. As we grow up, the opportunities for this ‘kinesthetic learning’ tend to decline as we lean towards written and spoken communication. This is certainly the case in the corporate world – the interpretation of ‘big data’ and analytics is primarily through spreadsheets, reports, dashboards etc.  Nathalie’s approach suggests that there are other ways of (quite literally) modelling data – that can provide immediate insight rather than picking out trends and anomalies amongst seas of numbers – data realisation rather than visualisation.

Are experts needed for interpretation?

Having an object that needs an expert/creator to provide context in order to understand it, is not ideal, however even with a small amount of unaided effort inspecting the object – the anomalies in the weather data were evident. As a method of serving up data I think Nathalie’s data sculptures are an interesting approach to providing insight and I wonder how 3D printing might be used to build models of data in a similar way.

The intersection of ‘maker movement’ and ‘big data’

Extending the notion of 3D printing to interpret ‘big data’, Nathalie’s data sculptures feel like an intersection between the ‘maker movement‘ with its strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them to reference designs, and the world of big data and analytics – a new approach to data insight that provides, quite literally, tangible results.

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Is that an award on my head?

Best B2B Lead Generation CampaignBest Sustainable Event

Is that an award on my head?, a group on Flickr.

Who doesn’t love a challenge – particularly amidst a lengthy set of categories with multiple nominations at annual award ceremonies?

A colleague had ‘set the standard’ at a recent award ceremony I was at for balancing the award on his head ‘hands free’, and lets just say, a moderate intake of champagne and actually winning an award (the first since a dubious domino tournament victory in a previous ice age when I was at school!) encouraged me to take up the challenge.

I can’t believe that we’re the only folk who’ve ever tried this – so I’ve created a group in Flickr to see if I can encourage other bold award bonce-balancing winners to contribute.

So if you – or anyone you know – merits inclusion in this hall of fame, please pass on the flickr link and encourage them to join the celebrations: http://www.flickr.com/groups/isthatanawardonmyhead/

I may have to buy a bicycle.

I’ve always liked things that are ‘regular but with a little bit o’ something extra’ – things that you have to pay a bit of attention to see or perhaps invest a smidge of effort in to find, and as a result, they generally go unnoticed. Into this category, yesterday I made a new addition.

In the clothing Venn Diagram that is ‘business’ and ‘casual’ dwells the ‘smart casual / business casual / dress down Friday’ penumbra, a murky place often frequented by chinos, oxford button-down collar shirts, blazers and very occasionally, a sock that neither matches a shoe, nor a belt (wildness)!

Having dined on too many a sweet sugary treat of late, I found that my current penumbra-wear Gap ‘khaki’ trousers required me to hold breath for too long a time to last out a full day and were restricting the circulation to my legs just a tad too long to be sensible – and so a quest for an alternative pair of strides demanded a trip to Oxford Street.

With Oyster card in hand and Olympic ‘hot spot’ fear in my heart, I braved SouthWest Trains and the Tube on Saturday and found a surprisingly quiet West End; well, certainly quieter than the start of my journey in Wimbledon, which was choc-a-block with Olympic tennis spectators, themselves near outnumbered by Olympic volunteers helping them to find their way.

Ultimately I found myself in the Levis store and strangely drawn to their ‘commuter’ range, thinking that I commute and therefore these jeans must be for me, I was near instantly ensnared by the cunning marketing ploys of features that I didn’t really need, but which had triggered my ‘little bit o’ something extra’ alarm.

Nice deep pockets to hold a phone and yet still allowing me to sit down without goring myself – and some extra stretchy bits on the sides so that I can actually retrieve my phone having sat down without having to make like an ironing-board to retrieve it.

They’ve also got some special technical-sounding Scotchgard coating on them, which in a Summer as we’ve just had in England I’m sure will be extremely useful. I’m not sure I’ll need the loop on the waistband to put my bike lock in, nor really the reflective stripes that appear as if by magic should I roll the bottom of my new trousers up – but I like the fact that they’ve been thought about as being useful features for cyclists.

Now of course – I feel I may have to buy a bicycle to go with them!

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