Have Data? Display It For Maximum Benefit.

New York Times Sunday Magazine writer, Virginia Heffernan, examines what it means to be a content creator in today’s suddenly democratized media environment.

We have to develop content that metamorphoses in sync with new ways of experiencing it, disseminating it and monetizing it. This argument concedes that it’s not possible to translate or extend traditional analog content like news reports and soap operas into pixels without fundamentally changing them. So we have to invent new forms. All of the fascinating, particular, sometimes beautiful and already quaint ways of organizing words and images that evolved in the previous centuries — music reviews, fashion spreads, page-one news reports, action movies, late-night talk shows — are designed for a world that no longer exists. They fail to address existing desires, while conscientiously responding to desires people no longer have.

One of the “new forms” Heffernan recommends is Newser, an aggregator of breaking news from traditional media that uses a highly visual format.
Yesterday at CyborgCamp in Portland, Amber Case–who was instrumental in concepting and organizing the unconference–shared some visualization tools for emerging topics on Twitter. Ward Cunningham, Wiki inventor and Chief Technology Officer of AboutUs, also addressed “Seeing” in what might be considered the keynote talk, if unconferences had such things. The thread running through Heffernan’s piece and into CyborgCamp is visualization of data. How can “data” which might be news, or recipes or consumer generated reviews be neatly and visually organized in a digital framework? That’s what more and more people who makes things for the Web are working to answer.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.