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Looking At Data Consumption


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These are the slides from the keynote presentation I delivered at the OCLC Research Libraries' Group annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in June, 2011.

You can see the program for the conference here:

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Looking At Data Consumption

  1. 1. Hello.Wednesday, June 15, 2011Before I pulled up the slides, I played Stravinsky’s arrangement of the US National Anthem,the Star-Spangled Banner. There’s a choral version on youtube: Stravinsky; Russian, moved to LA, He performed his realization of the Star-Spangled Bannerin Boston in 1944, to an apparently “startled” audience. The next day, authorities came to thevenue, removed the scores off the music stands, and cited a Massachusetts law banning theperformance of an “embellished” national anthem."The authorities must have regarded Stravinskys work as a setting of the familiar tune, but one that did not preserve theoriginal content the way it should have. Therefore, they must have regarded the content as not just the melody but also theusual harmonies. Apparently Stravinsky did not share this view of what was essential." Musician as Interpreter, Paul Thom,2007 page 50I like this subtle, lovely shift away from the traditional a new arrangement. This might sounda bit weird, but I’ve played Stravinsky’s version of the anthem over and over, and sung alongquite loudly, and I’m not even American.Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I’m George Oates, Project Lead of the Open Libraryproject, from the Internet Archive in San Francisco.
  2. 2. Some rights reserved by mattdorkWednesday, June 15, 2011I work at the Internet Archive, leading The Open Library project. We recently moved in to thischurch in The Richmond in San Francisco. We’re turning it into a library.
  3. 3. Wednesday, June 15, 2011We’re based in San Francisco, California, where I happen to have been living for about 5years.
  4. 4. Wednesday, June 15, 2011It’s a great town, and if you ever come, let me know and I’ll take you out for a drink!
  5. 5. Universal Access to All KnowledgeWednesday, June 15, 2011Since 1996, the non-profit Internet Archive has been building a digital library of Internet sitesand other things in digital form. has a ton of texts, video, software, live music...all sorts of things.Our mission is Universal Access to all Knowledge. Not a bad reason to get out of bed eachday...
  6. 6. Wednesday, June 15, 2011I was asked to talk to you today about “looking at data consumption.” That’s a very broadtopic, and it’s blurry these days. We are all consumers on the web, but many of us are alsoproducers and interpreters, sometimes implicitly.This talk is designed to be somewhat ephemeral. And it’s great if you disagree with me,because that will make the discussion afterwards that much more interesting.This is the first time I’ve played this song in front of an audience, so please, remember toclap at the end.Some rights reserved by daveknapik
  7. 7. Wednesday, June 15, 2011Let me introduce a couple of ideas I’d like to use as scaffolding for the presentation... thefirst is that the cycle of production to consumption is virtually immediate now, and oftenwhat we see on the Web is that consumption of an idea or object actually leads to a greatdeal of re-production, of re-presentation by the consumer, whether that consumer is ahuman or a computer.
  8. 8. production consumption organization interpretationWednesday, June 15, 2011I’ve structured the presentation loosely around these themes, and I’m hoping to demonstratethe idea that each of these actions can often also be understood as the other. There’s alsothe question of agency. In each of these steps in the flow, the actor can either be a human, ora computer. There are more and more examples of projects that not longer use simulationsto gain understanding, but real, flowing data. Some of the more interesting projects, in mymind at least, are those where this flow is a blend of human and computer actors. And that’sprobably the main trend I’d like you to come away with today.
  9. 9. "Once you have a collection of over say 2,000 items, a human being can no longer remember every item and needs a system to help find things." Dr. Barbara B. Tillett Change Cataloging, but Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water! 2004Wednesday, June 15, 2011It is this act of remembering, of creating a system - in the context of the web - that’s blurringthe boundaries between production & consumption, through organization and interpretationas creative acts.Everyone’s use of the web is different. Certainly there may be some flocks of use, each of ourviews on it is slightly different, and create virtually infinite ways to consume it. Our very use ofsome systems produces information about ourselves and our network that may be consumedby other people, the system itself, or the wider web.Today, I’m going to show you some bits and pieces from my own organization system, myMemex, projects that I think demonstrate this blur between production, consumption,organization and interpretation. A report from the trenches, if you will.Read Dr. Tillett’s paper:
  10. 10. Wednesday, June 15, 2011 rights reserved by stumayhew
  11. 11. Wednesday, June 15, 2011What we’re dealing with is a deeply complex dynamic system. Distribution can be immediate.Some rights reserved by centralasian
  12. 12. ImmediacyWednesday, June 15, 2011Some rights reserved bymassdistraction
  13. 13. Wednesday, June 15, 2011Me, Right Now, administered by garrettmurray, active meme in 2009969 members | 1,821 photos1. Take a picture of yourself right now.2. Dont change your clothes, dont fix your hair...just take a picture.3. Post that picture with NO editing.4. Post these instructions with your picture.
  14. 14. Wednesday, June 15, 2011Expectation of availability, of digital plenty. Everything is instant. Why isn’t everythingdigitized already? Download anything.Some rights reserved by vanderwal
  15. 15. Wednesday, June 15, 2011An example of immediacy...4 minutes ago somebody said something about libraries.A Justin Bieber fan account in Poland with 104,000 followers uses Google to do homework.
  16. 16. Wednesday, June 15, 2011!/search/bieberThe Bieber Trench.
  17. 17. Whats happening to precision?Wednesday, June 15, 2011!/search/bieber
  18. 18. Bicycle Built For 2,000 by Aaron KoblinWednesday, June 15, 2011 (2008)“Bicycle Built For 2,000 is comprised of 2,088 voice recordings collected via Amazons Mechanical Turk web service. Workers wereprompted to listen to a short sound clip, then record themselves imitating what they heard.”
  19. 19. Roar! HumWednesday, June 15, 2011The hum can be deafening if you try to listen to it.Some rights reserved by Anirudh Koul
  20. 20. Wednesday, June 15, 2011Transition point.Now, we’re getting very good at moving data around. There are a bazillion datasets on theweb. A bazillion everythings on the web. People expect data immediately, and consume itrapidly.
  21. 21. Wednesday, June 15, 2011It’s not just from normal humans either... Data everywhere.Governments, particularly here in the US, and Australia and the UK are working hard toproduce and publish large datasets.
  22. 22. Wednesday, June 15, 2011A group called the Open Knowledge Foundation looks after a site called CKAN, which hasalmost two thousand open datasets online, usefully declared as open by the way, soconsumption and reuse opportunity is made clear.
  23. 23. Wednesday, June 15, 2011There are also pretty quirky collections of data online, like Textfiles, which is lovinglycollected and arranged by Jason Scott, a self-proclaimed technology history nut.These 3 examples, from the official to the personal, are just a drop in the ocean of what’s outthere. Even OCLC itself announced the other day that they’d be releasing 1 millionbibliographic records into the wild...; Jason Scott
  24. 24. Wednesday, June 15, 2011The Black-Capped Pigeon.This most elegant of species is painted the size of life. It was found on the ground in the isle of Java,having dropped down dead in one of those hot days that are known only in the torrid zone, when thefowls of the air often perish, unable to respire; when lions, leopards, and wolves immerge themselves upto their nostrils in the water, to preserve themselves from the scorching sun; and, when even menthemselves have been forced to ascend the highest trees, in order to draw in a more temperate air.Such a day occasioned the discovery of this species. The fore part of the head, the cheeks, and beginningof the breast were white: the hind part of the head black: the chin yellow.It’s overwhelming. Too much to consume.Delicious bookmarking service. Announced a few months ago that Yahoo! was sellingit. Now sold, users are escaping to other
  25. 25. Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - started in 2009Founder, Mache describes it as “your sink”, but what I enjoy about it is that the system isosmotic by nature. It’s designed to inhale bookmarks from other systems en masse, but alsoto “release” them right back out again in a bunch of different formats.
  26. 26. Wednesday, June 15, 2011there’s RSS, API, upload by email, bulk download, browser widgets, bookmarkers etc etc.there’s life in the production, the system reinforces itself by activity. it also helps me andothers begin to organize what’s important to me on the web. The same sort of“standardization” that Jim was talking about in his introduction is simply produced bypeople’s use of the site. No negotiation necessary.This leads me to a project by Kevin Kelly called “the Internet Mapping Project”.
  27. 27. “The internet is vast. Bigger than a city, bigger than a country, maybe as big as the universe. Its expanding by the second. No one has seen its borders. And the internet is intangible, like spirits and angels. The web is an immense ghost land of disembodied places. Who knows if you are even there, there. Yet everyday we navigate through this ethereal realm for hours on end and return alive. We must have some map in our head.”Wednesday, June 15, 2011“Ive become very curious about the maps people have in their minds when they enter theinternet. So Ive been asking people to draw me a map of the internet as they see it. Thats all.More than 50 people of all ages and levels of expertise have mapped their geography ofonline. “ 2009
  28. 28. Wednesday, June 15, 2011
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  31. 31. Graph/report created by Mara Vanina OsésWednesday, June 15, 2011“Much to my surprise two days later, a professor in Argentina wrote the first paper with a firstattempt to classify this initial set of maps.”
  32. 32. Graph/report created by Mara Vanina OsésWednesday, June 15, 2011“Much to my surprise two days later, a professor in Argentina wrote the first paper with a firstattempt to classify this initial set of maps.”
  33. 33. AggregationWednesday, June 15, 2011We’re getting really good at aggregation. Not just big players, but everyone.Some rights reserved by tomwestbrook
  34. 34. Wednesday, June 15, 2011Locals and Tourists by Eric FischerThis is Washington, DC.Blue points on the map are pictures taken by locals (people who have taken pictures in this city dated over a rangeof a month or more).Red points are pictures taken by tourists (people who seem to be a local of a different city and who took pictures inthis city for less than a month).”“Some cities (for example Las Vegas and Venice) do seem to be photographed almost entirely by tourists. Othersseem to have many pictures taken in places that tourists dont visit. rights reserved by Eric Fischer
  35. 35. Wednesday, June 15, 2011Pretty Maps“It is an interactive map composed of multiple freely available, community-generated datasources: Flickr Shapefiles, Natural Earth, and Open Street Maps”
  36. 36. Wednesday, June 15, 2011
  37. 37. Wednesday, June 15, 2011Some rights reserved bystraup
  38. 38. Wednesday, June 15, 2011 sources consumed and re-interpreted, become products.
  39. 39. Wednesday, June 15, 2011“We asked readers the following questions: Was his death significant in our war against terror? And do you have anegative or positive view of this event? Readers — 13,864 of them — answered by plotting a response on thegraph and adding a comment to explain the choice. Each light blue dot represents one comment. Darker shadesrepresent multiple comments made on a single point.”
  40. 40. Wednesday, June 15, 2011“Dating Research on OK Cupid”“Beer Goggles” on OK Trends, blog for the dating site, OK Cupid. Anaylsis of thousands of users, with entertainingchoices & writing. Original witty research.
  41. 41. Wednesday, June 15, 2011You can’t make this stuff up. Or, well, you could, but...“10 Charts about Sex”
  42. 42. Wednesday, June 15, 2011Kinect X-Box launched in the U.S. November 2010133,333 units per day with a total of 8 million units in its first 60 days.RGB camera, depth sensor, and multi-array microphone running software that which providefull-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition and voice recognition capabilities* Competition run by AdaFruit Industries to develop an open source driver for the box;awarded on November 10* A former Microsoft employee is alleged to have personally sponsored the competition, whileworking there.
  43. 43. Body Dysmorphic Disorder by Robert HodginWednesday, June 15, 2011 (2010) is an artist living in San Francisco. Prominent in the Cinder community, for “creative coding in C++” - Of allthe bazillions of things written for the Kinect, Robert’s work is my favourite.
  44. 44. Wednesday, June 15, 2011All rights reserved by flight404, used with permission, Made with Cinder and a Kinect sensor.Withdrawl along surface normalsRuns in realtime. Experimenting with placing line segments along surface normals.
  45. 45. Wednesday, June 15, 2011All rights reserved by flight404, used with permission. December 2010Invisibility Made with Cinder and a Kinect sensor. Runs in realtime.Video on Vimeo: by the Optical Camouflage demo by Takayuki, the Predator movies.---Consumption leads to interpretation, and (re)production.
  46. 46. “Be Your Own Souvenir”Wednesday, June 15, 2011“Barcelona Street Installation Lets You Print A 3D Mini-Me” April 11
  47. 47. Media Surfaces by Dentsu London & BERGWednesday, June 15, 2011MEDIA SURFACES “Incidental Media” Dentsu London & Berg, 2011 Since the physical place can curate information. Gentle, delicate consumption.Ambient data.
  48. 48. Wednesday, June 15, 2011I was driving along in my car the other day, listening to the radio, and I thought to myself,jeez it’s nice not to have to choose what to listen to. I didn’t even particularly care what theyplayed... it was just nice to be played to.Curation is such a relief. Here are a couple I like.Some rights reserved by net_efekt
  49. 49. JMW Turner St Benedetto, Looking towards FusinaWednesday, June 15, 2011
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  51. 51. Connections by The Metropolitan Museum of ArtWednesday, June 15, 2011 art curator Melanie Holcomb talks about how maps help her make sense of theworld.
  52. 52. Wednesday, June 15, 2011Curated consumption, if I may. Very tightly controlled, personal inputs.A little tool built by Russell Davies in the UK.“And heres my other Homesense project. Made which much assistance from Tom and Andy.Its very simple. If there are more than five bikes at one of these bike stations the relevant LED comes on. Its aglanceable guide to which way to walk when we head out. Its going on the wall by the door. No need to reach fora device, launch an app and navigate to our favourites.” - “Homesense is a project that rethinks how we design smart homes andinvestigate how we interact with technologies at home.”Some rights reserved by russelldavies
  53. 53. Game For The Masses Amy Franceschini, 2002Wednesday, June 15, 2011So, to a note to end on...-sculpture- placed in a gallery- distribute pucks evenly- get the pucks
  54. 54. “Game for the Masses is research project made to observe social interactions around gaming. It revealed how people use games as an interface for conversation, interaction, play and openness. This game prompted creative thinking and problem solving. The game was positioned in a gallery with a small set of rules and instructions, but the game was left open for development.” Game For The Masses Amy Franceschini, 2002Wednesday, June 15, 2011
  55. 55. “Game for the Masses is research project made to observe social interactions around gaming. It revealed how people use games as an interface for conversation, interaction, play and openness. This game prompted creative thinking and problem solving. The game was positioned in a gallery with a small set of rules and instructions, but the game was left open for development.” Game For The Masses Amy Franceschini, 2002Wednesday, June 15, 2011
  56. 56. Game For The Masses Amy Franceschini, 2002Wednesday, June 15, 2011
  57. 57. Wednesday, June 15, 2011It’s true. The Internet is one big mass of largely inconsequential mess made by other peoplethat you will never find or care about. You help yourself make sense of it all by making trailsthrough it, creating sets or indexes of things on it, collecting things about you, in Bush’sMemex. Now, there are 6 billion memexes that can be trawled for a new sort of information.
  58. 58. “In writing variations my method is to remain faithful to the theme. Never mind the rest!” Igor StravinskyWednesday, June 15, 2011
  59. 59. Thanks! George Oates glo@abitofgeorge.comWednesday, June 15, 2011