Last week the Guardian broke news that call data records or "telephony metadata" from American Verizon subscribers was being handed over to the NSA under secret FISA court orders.
In parts of the world where there are few smartphones and GPS-enabled devices, transportation architecture has to be designed based on less granular resources, such as surveys, which can result in rough estimates. IBM researchers are looking into how data from simple cell phones can be used instead to see how people move.
The IBM work centered on Abidjan, where 539 large buses are supplemented by 5,000 mini-buses and 11,000 shared taxis. The IBM researchers studied call records from about 500,000 phones with data relevant to the commuting question...
While the data is rough—and of course not everyone on a bus has a phone or is using it—routes can be gleaned by noting the sequence of connections. And IBM and other groups have found that these mobile phone “traces” are accurate enough to serve as a guide to larger population movements for applications such as epidemiology and transportation.
Data Points: Visualization That Means Something is available now. Order your copy.
I wonder how many college teachers are discussing the Boston Marathon bombings with their students, and what they are saying about the aftermath.
|Visitor-contributed photos surround a collection piece |
in Carnegie Museum of Art's Oh Snap! project.
Several months ago, a cross-departmental group of staffers at Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh got together to explore ways the museum could become more flexible, nimble and interactive with respect to way we engage audiences, both on-site and online. The result of those meetings and brainstorming sessions recently manifested itself in our Forum Gallery as an experimental photography project called Oh Snap! Your Take on Our Photographs.
Project BackgroundI don't want to get lost in the weeds with respect to the mechanics and back-end details, but I think it's important to include some context about the project so we can effectively explore what's working and what's not. At its core, Oh Snap! is a project that lets real-world and virtual visitors share their work in our gallery. The museum selected and is featuring 13 works recently added to our photography collection. Each work was specifically chosen for its potential to inspire creative responses. We then invited people to submit their own photographic responses (via the web) inspired by one of the 13 works from the project.
Each day, the museum prints out new submitted photographs and hangs them alongside their inspirations in the gallery. When a participant's work is selected, we let them know via email when it will be on view, and send out a free admission pass so they can visit their submission in the museum.
It's a bit complicated to explain in writing, but this video does a good job of summarizing the project.
We're seeing tons of excitement around this project and a huge level of participation, especially for a museum just dipping its toe in the waters of open authority. Since the project launch on February 21, we've received 685 submissions from participants across the United States, Europe and South America.
Here are some reasons why I think Oh Snap! is killing it:
We See Participants as PartnersThe thesis of Oh Snap! hinges on the ideas experimentation, uncertainty and partnership. We opened the gallery with empty walls (save the 13 collection works) and it could have very well stayed that way until the project closes in April. We took a HUGE risk when we trusted our audience to help us create something cool, not only on the web, but in a museum.
A website can fail softly, however there's no avoiding the awkwardness if we open a gallery and have nothing on the walls for several months. I think participants realize that we're relying on them to make this work.
We Make it EasyAnother key to the success of the project is that we lowered the barrier of entry for participants. Graphically, both on-site and online, the project is very inviting. Warm purple tones invite curiosity and modern iconography convey relevance to a younger, digitally-connected demographic.
We built a responsive website that renders elegantly across all devices and capitalizes on user impulse by allowing participants to submit photos instantly from their mobile phone or tablet's camera roll, as well as desktop computers. We also developed the site so each submitted photo had its own URL and threaded comment stream so discussions could take place around the submitted works. Social integrations are important so we infused easy sharing via Facebook and Twitter wherever possible.
When early feedback indicated users were confused about the submission process, we fine-tuned our language and quickly produced a promo video that distills the complete process in a hilarious 2-minute story.
In the gallery, we hung custom-made Post-It note pads on object title cards so visitors could take a reminder to submit an image with them when they left the gallery. We put couches and a coffee table in the room to entice visitors to spend time with the works and create a comfortable environment.
We did all of this to make it as easy as possible for someone to be a part of the project. We don't have control over whether or not a visitor participates, but we can control the participation environment so it is a delightful experience.
We Blur Digital and Real-World ExperiencesThe biggest difference between Oh Snap! and other crowd-sourced photography projects is the physical manifestation of tactile objects in the gallery. Too often, projects like this live exclusively on the web and have no "real-world" presence. We knew from the beginning that this project needed to effectively marry the digital with the real-world, with the goal of blurring lines between the two.
We found humor and fun to be great bridges between the physical and digital environments. From the language used on the website and in automated emails, to the promo video, to the gallery texts and Launch Party, we took every opportunity to infuse fun at every interaction point, be it online or in the gallery. This common thread unifies a multi-platform project like Oh Snap! and creates a consitent experience no matter how or where a user interacts with the project.
We See No Finish LineFinally, and perhaps the most vital component to the success of the project is its unfinished nature. Oh Snap! is truly an "exhibition in beta." It's evolving and living and organic. We can change up the gallery if we need to. We can change the way the website functions or add elements as we need them. We're not locked into a traditional exhibition format and we have the ability to stay nimble.
We've also structured this project so we can maintain an ongoing dialog with participants even after the Oh Snap! gallery closes. When this project is officially over, we'll take what we learned and apply it to the next experiment, hopefully building on the work and insights gained from this project. We're not sure what that next experiment will be, but we're looking forward to trying something new.
If you have a question or comment for Jeffrey and the Oh Snap! team, please share it. Jeffrey will be checking in here over the next couple of weeks to respond.
This week, Chrome For Android M26 was announced. It has the literally-awesome ability to record video via `getUserMedia()`, but enough about making Skype irrelevant. What’s even more interesting is the new data compression feature. Which, to be clear, is experimental, has to be switched on, doesn’t apply to secure (SSL) sites, and it’s only running in the beta app.
With this feature, Google will be delivering streamlined responses, leading to substantial performance improvements and bandwidth savings. In the latest Mobile Web Thursday’s, Google’s Pete Le Page demonstrated The Verge weighs in at 1.2MB when proxied, down from the hefty 1.9MB it otherwise would have been, and also reports having seen a 65$ reduction elsewhere.
The speed benefit comes in a couple of ways. First, the proxy and the browser communicate via SPDY. Most websites still haven’t enabled SPDY, but Chrome has it built in and Google’s proxy will now act as a SPDY adaptor for any (non-SSL) website. Second, images are returned as WebP format. WebP claims to shave off around 30% and Google claims 60% of bandwidth is images…so that’s about an 18% reduction right there.
Mobile proxying is nothing new for Google. I don’t know the full history, but I recall seeing it as early as 2003 (anyone know?). It would be enabled after a search, and the proxy is still runnning. But this is a proxy for the new era of smartphone browsers, and comes just over a year after Amazon introduced its Silk browser with a similar proxying solution. Unlike the older Opera Mini solution, which provided comfort for resource-challenged feature phones, this new breed of browser is still able to work as a regular browser, but can route through a proxy as needed. What Amazon refers to as a “hybrid browser”.
I have also seen similar capabilities made available as reverse-proxies for site owners. CloudFlare, for example, can compress scripts and optimize images.
Overall, these proxying services will make it easier for developers to deliver a better experience for users. But as they become more popular and better-understood, they will also come with the privacy and security concerns that were ignited soon after Silk browser came out. It will be up to the ecosystem to find the right balance, and Google has so far done well to release this experimentally, and ensuring secure sites go direct to the browser.