Notes about visualization

June 30, 2012 permalink

What Do You See when You Read

In this way we are backwards phrenologists, we readers. Extrapolating physiques from minds.

From Jacket Mechanical’s nice mini-essay on the difficulties of visualizing characters from novels, how our minds fill in the textual lacunae with broad brushstrokes of personality over literal physical features.

“Call me Ishmael.” What happens when you read this line? You are being addressed, but by whom? Chances are you hear the line (in your mind’s ear) before you picture the speaker. I can hear Ishmael’s words more clearly than I can see his face. (Audition requires different neurological processes than vision, or smell. And I would submit that we hear more when we read than we see). Picturing Ishmael requires a strong resolve.

(Via Coudal Partners)

September 28, 2011 permalink

The Deleted City

The Deleted City, an installation that lets visitors explore the virtual ‘homesteads’ of, the most popular gathering place on the 1990’s WWW. For those not familiar, the site made it easy for the average person to set up a basic website (tacky graphics and all), and then group it into a ‘neighborhood’ based on the site’s presumed subject matter.

The installation is an interactive visualisation of the 650 gigabyte Geocities backup made by the Archive Team on October 27, 2009. It depicts the file system as a city map, spatially arranging the different neighbourhoods and individual lots based on the number of files they contain.

In full view, the map is a datavisualisation showing the relative sizes of the different neighbourhoods. While zooming in, more and more detail becomes visible, eventually showing invididual html pages and the images they contain. While browsing, nearby MIDI files are played.

I love the choice of music for this demo video.

August 23, 2010 permalink


Yukikaze, a “physical output device for a spectrum analyzer”. The idea is surprisingly simple, with elegant results: a case with powder beads that get blown around by sixteen DC fans mounted beneath, their speed controlled by Max/MSP. Real-life visualization fun.

(Via Make)

March 20, 2010 permalink

Rapid Prototyping with Ceramics

If you’re the sort of lab that’s engineering a method of printing ceramic materials using rapid prototyping machines, I suppose it’d make sense that you’d already have made some real-life polygonal Utah teapots! I never thought about it before, but for the 3D graphics humor value I really, really want one of these now. You can read about the Utanalog project and see finished photos (and a video explaining the whole thing) over on the Unfold blog.

January 10, 2010 permalink

The Fat Lab Crew Put the Markup Back in Markup

GML = Graffiti Markup Language from Evan Roth on Vimeo.

The FAT LAB crew put the markup back in markup language, with their week dedicated to creating new applications and standardizing their existing work around a Graffiti Markup Language, an XML archive format describing tagging and gestural drawing. Rad.

See also: the new DustTag and Fat Tag Deluxe iPhone apps.