December 15th, 2011

Substratum interview

The fine folks over at Interactive Things interviewed a few great designers and hackers for their substratum interview series. I also answered some questions – read the interview here.

November 18th, 2011

Force-based label placement

Demo and code for a smart little label placement method developed in the Max Planck research networks project.

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November 10th, 2011

5 years of well-formed-data

Five years ago, I posted the first entry on this blog. I think it is safe to say, it’s been a wild ride. I know lots of you who read this have been following my work for a long time, and I would sincerely thank you all for your attention, comments, and help.

For the younger ones among you: 5 years ago, infosthetics was pretty in purple (with that awkward off-center vertical axis). 5 years ago, there was no flowingdata.com. But yes, we did have electricity, thanks for asking.

What was I doing 5 years ago? Well, I was just starting my master’s at the interface design program at FH Potsdam. The fabulous Prof. Boris Müller took me under his wings, and he made me visualize the heck out of this brand new thing called web 2.0! Tags! Feeds! Blogging! Wikipedia! A new world order! Ah, exciting times. Although clearly a child of its times, I still think my thesis turned out quite nice, and laid the foundation for many, many good things to come. The weeks of my thesis presentation were probably the most intense of my life, with me and Sina moving together, me presenting my thesis, Sina’s father dying and our son Juri being born in the course of only a few very short weeks. A whole new chapter had started, and now I was living on the country side with a baby, commuting to Potsdam for my part-time research position, and at the same time working freelance datavis jobs.

Well, many things have happened in the meantime, and I am very grateful for where I am at right now. Here’s to the next 5 years of well-forming whatever data I come across!

October 25th, 2011

Global Agenda Survey 2011

Old news for you, if you follow me on twitter already (or read infosthetics), but here is a quick pointer to the interactive graphics for the Global Agenda Survey 2011 we launched last week for the World Economic Forum:

I realized the project together with the talented Jan Willem Tulp, from who you surely will hear much more over the next few months.

A little technical note: The interactive graphics were all done in HTML5, with the help of the following great Javascript frameworks: raphael.jsunderscore.jsd3.js. Except for the network visualization, all graphics run fully interactive down to IE6. #techachievement #lookma #noflash

September 21st, 2011

Truth and Beauty

For those who missed it the first time around – here is my talk from the eyeo conference this summer:


You should definitely also check out the other videos in the eyeo collection, and watch out for upcoming releases, there were literally dozens of great, great talks.

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September 8th, 2011

Max Planck Research Networks

Science! Multitouch! Networks! All in one project! Can it be true? Yes, it can. Here it is:

Max Planck Research Networks

The multi-touch installation Max Planck Research Networks reveals how Max Planck Institutes collaborate with each other, and with their international partners.

The piece is exhibited at the Max Planck Science Gallery, a highly interactive exhibition space presenting new forms of science communication in Berlin. You should come and visit it.

This is the first larger Java project I ever did, and it would not – at all – have been possible without Christopher Warnow from onformative, so thanks for for the great cooperation! (Big thanks go to the rest of onformative, too – to Cedric for the idea for the label placement algorithm and Julia for the great support with the documentation.)

Big thanks also to my colleagues at Elsevier and Max Planck Gesellschaft, who made the collaboration a real pleasure. I was also quite impressed with the overall project direction of Archimedes, who did a fabulous job of conceiving and realizing the exhibition space.

August 23rd, 2011

On the role of bacon in visualization

I recently ran across a chart on Spiegel Online, the most popular German site for online news. The chart was a tilted 3D heatmap in fully saturated primary colors, with a thick black arrow aside.

I quickly uttered my surprise at the presence of such a poorly designed chart – esp. in such a high profile online publication – in a snarky Twitter comment, and soon after, Robert Kosara posted a whole blog post defending the graphic, and calling for “a bit more subtlety in our criticism”.

Well, I am not sure if Twitter was optimized for subtlety, yet, I guess I should clarify a bit the background of my judgement (especially since Robert’s speculative assumptions about my train of thought is not accurate in all points).

→ read more

August 18th, 2011

Chances to see me

I am back after a small summer break in lovely Bavaria. I would like to point you to some events I will take part in.


alpha-ville symposium Sep 23, London

Find out what post-digitalism might actually mean, with, among others: Filip Visnjic – Architect, Lecturer and Founder of Creative Applications Network, Tom Uglow – Director of Creative Labs Europe, Google, Drew Hemment – Director & Founder of Future Everything etc. And me!


decoded conference 2011 Oct 15, Munich

Last year, I was invited as a speaker, and now I come as a visitor and friend. Looking forward to a really interesting mixture of speakers!


EDIT 2011 Oct 21–23, Røros

I hope I am not jumping the gun here, but you might want to have an eye on the EDIT festival in case you are from Norway! Just saying!


visualizing marathon Dec 3–4, Munich Berlin

I like the sportive idea behind the visualizing marathon, where teams of students compete in producing the best visualization in 24 hours. I will be around for the Munich Berlin event, and give a short introductory speech.

August 8th, 2011

this happened

Watch me talk about the notabilia project at “this happened Hamburg” (in German, though!)


And find the slides here.

Also make sure to watch the other speakers as well – everyone was very inspiring and unique!

July 25th, 2011

The VIZoSPHERE

A new diversion of mine: mapping twitter accounts related to information visualization with gephi:

 click for zoomable version

This map shows 1645 twitter accounts related to the topic of information visualization. The accounts were determined as follows: For a subjective selection of “seed accounts”[1], the twitter API was queried for followers and friends. In order to be included into the map, a user account needed to have at least 5 links (i.e. follow or being followed) to one of these accounts. The size of the network nodes indicates the number of followers within this network.

[1] The seed accounts were; @moritz_stefaner, @datavis, @infosthetics, @wiederkehr, @FILWD, @janwillemtulp, @visualisingdata, @jcukier, @mccandelish, @flowingdata, @mslima, @blprnt, @pitchinteractiv, @bestiario140, @eagereyes, @feltron, @stamen, @thewhyaxis