Data Visualization

New Political Interfaces

‍"New Political Interfaces is a look into activity in politics on the Internet, with political activity as the content generated by the parties as well as by the users themselves, and expose any correlations between them." (poster text)

Visualizar '09 was a 2 week collective enterprise where people from different areas gathered to discuss about data culture, public data and to develop prototypes related to the theme.

It is an initiative from the Media Lab Prado, where a group of people immerse themselves in a working environment, and discuss our work with specialists from different parts of the world. On this edition, we had the presence of Aaron Koblin(Google Creative Director), Santiago Ortiz (Bestiario), Ben Cerveny (fromStamen), Manuel Lima (visualcomplexity).

In total there were around 100 people, that came in and out, participated freely in conferences, collaborated with projects, and discussed accessibility of public data. Some of the issues discussed were Open Data, visualization as a basis for public debate, government transparency.

The integration of professionals from different areas allowed us to have very rich points of view, they were from environmentalists, designers, programmers, mathematicians, physicists, public officials, artists, engineers, historians.

Throughout the 2 weeks, we were encouraged to collaborate in the project Wiki, and a requirement at the end was to have all that filled out. All source codes should be public, as well as the results.

New Political Interfaces

The project I joined as collaborator was an initiative from a spanish company calledAer Studio, where they were proposing to develop data visualizations for uncovering political content.

The initial idea was to try to make content comparisons, so we could try to unveil structures in the public political debate in newspapers, or media sources. We decided to concentrate on Twitter content, since there was the possibility of comparing individual messages from opinion leaders (including public officials) and newspapers, and on the USA as a political context. Which themes were more valued by media vehicles and by opinion leaders tweets? Were there any pattern on decay and revival of tweets? For how long do tweets live? Are there any “power users” that define tweet dissemination and life length? Are there any dissemination patterns? These were some of the questions we had, and which resulted in a prototype with 2 main parts. The first one answered the question:

1. What are or aren’t they talking about?

This visualization was a collection of tweet accounts from politicians and news outlets, and the issues they were mentining. It is possible to see which of the users talked about certain issues, and to see interconnections between users.

2. Total amount of tweets over time.

This second visualization aimed at finding out about the decay rate of a tweet. The themes were specified and the user could choose which specific tweet life he wants to see, and make comparisons between two different tweets or between regions (in this case, of the USA). Here we also showed the presence of power users and how they often “revive” the tweet.

PROJECT INFO // Project heads Cristóbal Castilla, Héctor Sánchez-Pajares and José Hernández.Collaborators Daniel González (design and programming), Roland Heuge (programming), Samara Tanaka (design) y Miguel López (research and documentation).

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