- June 29, 2011
This past weekend, Jacob Perkins and I attended data in sight: making the transparent visual, a data visualization competition organized by Creative Commons, Swissnex San Francisco and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Held in the Adobe SF office and structured as a competitive hackathon, the aim for teams was to create a complete data visualization from scratch in two days. Participants came from all over the world and included folks from established large companies, small start-ups, academia, non-profits, and several lone freelancers.
Friday evening, the contestants were briefed on the challenge. Our very own Jacob delivered a stellar presentation of a carefully curated collection of useful datasets, that included specific suggestions of how the data might best be used. This layer of practical explanation really helped folks quickly understand and get excited about the beautiful possibilities of Infochimps datasets.
After the presentations, participants formed into 19 teams of 3-5 developers, designers and data experts. The groups worked continuously until Sunday at lunchtime and in the end, 14 of the teams delivered a final presentation, and 8 of the 14 used Infochimps data. (You can peruse those 8 visualizations here: Pathlist, Marvel Universe Social Graph, UFO Siter, Uber Shady, Parkalator, CuriouSnakes, Disaster Strikes: A World In Sight and Silenced.)
A group of 11 judges (including myself) evaluated the teams’ efforts and while most of the teams created some impressive results, we quickly agreed upon the ones we thought were the best. There were five prize categories, and 4 out of the 5 winners used Infochimps data!
MOST ACTIONABLE: Parkalator
This is a multi-model parking cost optimization tool for San Francisco residents. It helps drivers decide where to park to save money or whether it’d be cheaper to take a cab.
MOST AESTHETICALLY PLEASING: Marvel Universe Social Graph
This is a beautiful display of how Marvel comic characters are related to each other.
BEST DYNAMIC/INTERACTIVE: Disaster Strikes
This tool lets you browse and cluster the destruction caused by disasters over the last 60 years. It includes an automatic clustering of nations based on disaster similarity.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE: CuriouSnakes
This is a fun tool for dynamically browsing AOL search history. It sometimes reveals unexpected wisdom about human nature.
All in all, a highly interesting and engaging weekend. Thanks to the event organizers and attendees who brought together the beauty of visualization with the power of data. We’re curious to see what else folks will build on our data!