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◌  Two talks about data

25 June 2012

These two presentations have formed my thinking about data this summer.

A five-minute ignite talk by Jen Lowe at Eyeo.

A half-hour talk by Usman Haque at Designing Geopolitics 2. He starts speaking about five minutes in.

Both of these discuss the limits of data visualization and indeed data and indeed knowledge. It’s not hard to find people claiming that we don’t know very much, but these two are experts at figuring out and showing what we know. Skepticism about the power of scatterplots means something serious – is more than sophomoric nihilism – when it comes from them.

I hope these might be news of a fresh wave of data work: analysis and visualization that retains a sense of play, but also admits its responsibility as rhetoric and is more able to expose its own assumptions and omissions. In my head I’ve been calling this data with context, but I think we need something catchier.