Heart and Sole, mapped

I'm looking forward to going to the Heart and Sole Conference next Friday :-) Apparently it's sold out, so it should be good fun...

Here's the data set on Google Docs :-)


I was reading through the Guardian's Open Platform blog today, and I stumbled across a really excellent BBC project named DataArt. The project uses BBC data, both public and internal to produce interesting visualisations.

The one that really caught my eye was a visualisation pulling related web links and content into a live TV stream. The team had set up a IRC channel with the subtitles from the live BBC News feed, which was then fed through natural language processing and relevant words and terms extracted. The team then provided links to BBC News content based on that term. This looked great and I think that it would really add value to the TV feed.

However I got thinking about other purposes for this data, and how I would reuse it. I really liked seeing the relevant terms being pulled out of the TV feed, and while I think that the links to other BBC content were great if you were watching the feed, I think that they could be re-purposed as a raw data stream. I would really like to see a simple screen scroller just showing the relevant terms, without the TV feed, for a really cool heads up display.

One of the ideas I've had about my connected house project thing is to have a heads up display with energy consumption and other things constantly displayed. I think it would be really cool just to have the relevant terms scrolling across the bottom of the screen, so that I could have a very basic idea of the current news.

Unfortunately it looks like it's more of a proof of concept than a working project, so it looks like I won't be getting the feed any time soon. But kudos to the BBC for at least trying some new stuff.

What Information Overload?

Over the last few months I keep noticing discussions about so-called "problems" of the web that aren't really affecting anyone. I've had whole conversations with people about how something like the addition of a score has effected the quality of posts on Tumblr only to stop and realize that I was arguing for something I haven't experienced.

Information overload falls perfectly into this bucket. It's a huge topic on the web, partly because it's a huge topic off the web: Newspapers and magazines love covering it (probably because they're the antidote). Anyway, New York Magazine has some type of story on the subject (which I may or may not read). The article has the following quote by an economist named Herbert Simon: "What information consumes is rather obvious: It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it."

To which the always insightful (and never afraid to take the opposite position) Scott Rafer responded, "Information overload only occurs when the structure of the information being offered to you isn't intuitive for you. It's not the amount of information; it's that you're stuck in a meta-rut due to age, attitude, or lousy intellectual environment." He's right. I don't feel like there's too much information out there. I love the abundance. I live on the abundance. Sure, I miss stuff, but I always missed stuff and so did everyone else.

(via noahbrier.com)

Great post - My thoughts exactly.

Information overload is a myth created by the old tradition media that only exists when data is badly presented or when someone is too lazy to sort the data. It's designed to hark back to the "good old days" of old media. I say bring on the age of Total Information Awareness (sometimes known as TIA).