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The Net Takeaway: Data Visualization and Radiohead


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Data Visualization and Radiohead · 07/16/2008 12:24 PM, Analysis

You might have heard about the new Radiohead music video. Done completely in Flash, it used 3d data and made the whole thing using desktop technologies and no cameras. You can now play with the data and the approach using Processing. See the Papervision3d blog for more detail, or go directly to the video for House of Cards hosted at Google, where you can also download code and data.

Who did this amazing thing? A pair of guys Yahoo! chose to lay off in it’s purge in Feb ’08. Aaron Koblin and Aaron Meyers were part of the Yahoo Design Innovation group aka “yHaus”, a team dedicated to moving the art and science of visualization forward. This team was creating amazing work… and Y! purged them all.

It’s sad when you realize what you had only after you’ve let it go. And that old adage that if you love something, let it go and if it loves you back, it will return? Well, that only works if the person wanted to go. These guys wanted to stay, Y! laid them off, and now I expect their success will be the best revenge.

I believe that the ability to display data in a way that is easy to understand and encourages the viewer to engage with it is the future. Presenters all believe that graphics should tell an immediate story (see Seth Godin’s 3 laws) and others want all data displays to be interactive and clickable requiring you to dig to see anything (see Crystal Xcelsius). The real answer is a mix of these, requiring both art and analytic science. And groups like yHaus were on this track, ahead of so many others.

Sure, there are other great design and visualization groups and tools out there. But how many have had to deal with the real deal: massive data on an almost unimaginable scale? One of of the few who did are now gone, and I think we will all understand what we lost only well after it’s gone.

Keep your eyes out for other wonderous things from folks like:
S. Joy Mountford
Aaron Koblin
Doug Fritz
Ben Clemens
Daniel Massey
Aaron Meyers
Michael Chang
Juliana Yamashita
Ray Mcclure
Carrie Burgener
Jen Lau
Jenny Chowdhury
Vaibhav Bhawsar
mia (Jiyoung Yun)
Parul Vora

If I left anyone out, please put it in the comments. I also couldn’t find sites for some folks; if you know of them, put them in the comments and I’ll update.

See Yahoo Design Closed Down for more about their projects. and keep changing the number at the end.

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