I arrived in Minneapolis for Eyeo 2014 by my favourite means of transport, a train from Shelby, Montana. The 24 hour ride gave us plenty of time to contemplate our speaker schedules, anticipation for the much acclaimed festival building as we chugged closer. And of course, the year's Eyeo did not disappoint. They pulled out all the stops to impress visually, intellectually, and atmospherically - the venues truly set the stage for the talent that graced them. One of the strengths of the conference: the diversity of it's content. Perspectives from research/industry, theory/practice, design/tech converged to move beyond fields to focus on concepts, big questions, critique.
Not to get too wordy, here are a few highlights:
Quotes / Concepts
"The act of drawing raises questions." – Georgia Lupi (Co-founder and design director at Accurat)
Lupi's session brought us into her creative process, articulating what can seem impossible to parse. The above quote refers to the effectiveness of drawing when first approaching a data visualization; drawing as "tactile feedback for your mind."
"Invisibility is a form of power" – Kim Crawford, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research (Social Media Collective)
Surveillance was definitely a hot topic throughout the festival (also see Adam Harvey, Ashkan Soltani, Burak Arikan) and Kim Crawford had great insight during her keynote. Much of what she discussed is covered in her article: The Anxieties of big data.
"Is the pubic seeing a visualization monoculture?" – Dr. Scott Davidoff and Jesse Kriss of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
In their session, "Parlor Tricks, Space Robots, and the Future We Want," Dr. Davidoff and Kriss tackle the perception of visualization and how to approach projects with clients. They argue that when the public only sees a small slice of the field, that's what they expect, or they write if off because they think that's all it is. This leads to more of the same or less interesting visualizations. How to change it? Present clients with the wildest opportunities and most ambitious tasks. Ask for something profound. Focus on the benefits and the big results/outcomes beyond the design/techniques. Don't have people ask for tree map, but for the broader scope of possibilities of visualization. This is visualization without bounds that not only leads to innovation in our field, but in the clients field as well.Needless to say, a very inspirational session from JPL.
Lastly, Kim Reese gives us her predictions about the future of data. Here are a few that I found interesting:
- The Data Lake - reduce redundancy. One location for datasets that projects can point to.
- The Rise of Data Natives - the expectation that data is embedded in everything.
- Data Autonomy - data doing things on its own; more processing by machines - less eyeballs; the userless interface.
- The Data war - debates over latent tech surveillance.
Is it possible? 'data' and 'data viz' might have out-buzzed themselves at Eyeo.
Privacy and surveillance
The Future We Want - so many sessions had this at the core: what decisions do we make now to get to where we want to be later?
P5 JS - something I've been looking forward to for a while, creators Lauren McCarthy and Evelyn Eastmond walked us through during a 3 hour morning workshop.
Ada Lovelace - 19th century female computer programmer and hero via the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Leah Buechley is awesome.
KHOLE - concept of NORMCORE via Kim Crawford
Evidence that data viz is ready and willing to engage in social change
Timeline JS may come in very handy for one of my projects.