How to Tell Complex Stories Through Smart Design – Off Book Episode: The Art of Data Visualization

“Off Book is a web-original series from PBS Arts that explores cutting edge arts and the artists that make it. Episodes range from video games to typography, internet memes to steampunk culture.” <pbs>

Other Off Book episodes include The Creativity of Indie Video Games and The Art of Creative Coding, among many others.

A couple weeks ago Christopher Hedges (American Fascists, 2007; Empire of Illusion, 2009; The Death of the Liberal Class, 2010) was interviewed on TVO’s The Agenda. TVO blogged last week that Steve Paikin’s interview with Hedges back in October of 2010 became one of their most-watched YouTube videos, with almost fifteen-thousand views. Hedges’ latest Agenda interview, with Piya Chattopadhyay as part of The Agenda in the Summer, aired last week, and has been viewed almost 8,300 times already…

He was interviewed on two days:

Day One: Chris Hedges calls them “sacrifice zones,” huge pockets of impoverished America on the verge of cementing a permanent underclass. The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist has teamed up with cartoonist Joe Sacco in his latest project “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” to shed some light on this issue. He joins Piya Chattopadhyay for more on his warning. <link>

Day Two: Chris Hedges on what he sees as the consequences of an uneven distribution of wealth: destruction, violence and revolt. He tells Piya Chattopadhyay what the Occupy movement should be about and how best to deal with these socioeconomic issues in the public discourse. <link>

My first encounter with Hedges was during my days involved with the ‘New Atheist Movement’ in the mid-2000s. I had originally thought Hedges, having published American Fascists (2007) about the dangerous rise of religious fundamentalism in the US, was allied with the politics and views of this group (which included intellectual titans like Richard Dawkins and Chris Hitchens, among others). I was wrong. Here is the debate between Hedges and prominent advocate for the movement Sam Harris that made this clear for me and changed my thinking dramatically during my undergrad:

More recently however, here is the lecture that revitalized by passion for this man and his work:

Journalist and author Chris Hedges delivers a lecture based on his book Death of the Liberal Class. Hedges argues that there are five pillars of the liberal establishment – the press, liberal religious institutions, labor unions, universities and the Democratic Party – but that these institutions have failed the constituents they purport to represent. <link.

You can also hear these TVO talks, as I prefer, in podcast form.

“In this new RSAnimate, renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how our ‘divided brain’ has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society. Taken from a lecture given by Iain McGilchrist as part of the RSA’s free public events programme.”

Yesterday the human population reached seven billion.


“Population is a complicated topic. But we wanted to do it in a way that gives readers room to think. We spread out our coverage over a year, with articles that take deep dives into specific issues—demographics, food security, climate change, fertility trends, managing biodiversity—that relate to global population. Our reporting is collected here. Feel free to explore and share your thoughts on twitter at #7billion.” – National Geographic Special Series: 7 Billion

The Beautiful Brain is an online magazine on the art and science of the human brain:

“The Beautiful Brain explores the latest findings from the ever-growing field of neuroscience through monthly long-form essays, reviews, galleries, short-form blog posts and more, with particular attention to the dialogue between the arts and sciences. The site illuminates important new questions about creativity, the mind of the artist, and the mind of the observer that modern neuroscience is helping us to answer, or at least to provide part of an answer. Instances where art seeks to answer questions of a traditionally scientific nature are also of great interest, and for that reason you will hear from artists as well as scientists on The Beautiful Brain.” <link>

A movie inspired on numbers, geometry and nature, by Cristóbal Vila.

Go to www.etereaestudios.com for more info: theory behind, stills, screenshots, tutorials…

This video reminds me of the award winning animations XVIVO created for the website BioVisions at Harvard.

Hans Rosling <TEDFeb2006>

“Documentary which takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride through the wonderful world of statistics to explore the remarkable power thay have to change our understanding of the world, presented by superstar boffin Professor Hans Rosling, whose eye-opening, mind-expanding and funny online lectures have made him an international internet legend.

Rosling is a man who revels in the glorious nerdiness of statistics, and here he entertainingly explores their history, how they work mathematically and how they can be used in today’s computer age to see the world as it really is, not just as we imagine it to be.

Rosling’s lectures use huge quantities of public data to reveal the story of the world’s past, present and future development. Now he tells the story of the world in 200 countries over 200 years using 120,000 numbers – in just four minutes.

The film also explores cutting-edge examples of statistics in action today. In San Francisco, a new app mashes up police department data with the city’s street map to show what crime is being reported street by street, house by house, in near real-time. Every citizen can use it and the hidden patterns of their city are starkly revealed. Meanwhile, at Google HQ the machine translation project tries to translate between 57 languages, using lots of statistics and no linguists.

Despite its light and witty touch, the film nonetheless has a serious message – without statistics we are cast adrift on an ocean of confusion, but armed with stats we can take control of our lives, hold our rulers to account and see the world as it really is. What’s more, Hans concludes, we can now collect and analyse such huge quantities of data and at such speeds that scientific method itself seems to be changing.” <BBC>

The Joy of Stats with Professor Hans Rosling

“Publicity was once the exclusive property of men of rank. They alone, by virtue of their stations, could make things public. During the 18th century it became meaningful to talk about “public opinion” as something formed outside the state. Today anyone with a Twitter account can make a public. In this series IDEAS producer David Cayley examines how publics were formed in Europe, between 1500 and 1700, and how these early publics grew into the concept of “the public” that we hold today.”

“All of us today participate in imaginary communities that we call publics – our Ideas broadcast assembles a virtual community of listeners – a listening public. But there was a time when making things public was the exclusive property of men of rank. Matters of state, Queen Elizabeth I proclaimed to her subjects in 1559, were fit to be treated only by “men of authority” and conveyed only to audiences of “grave and discreet persons.” By the 18th century it had become meaningful to talk about public opinion as a sovereign power formed outside the state. What happened in the intervening years to make this revolution possible is
the subject of this Ideas series.”

  • An introduction to Making Publics and to the Early Modern Period
  • The Reformation
  • Forms of Nationhood
  • The Print Revolution
  • Painting Modernity
  • Elizabethan/Jacobean Theatre
  • Theatre and Publics
  • The Private Goes Public
  • The Secret History of Domesticity
  • Science and Its Publics
  • Steps to a Public Sphere
  • The News Revolution and the 18th Century Public Sphere
  • Publics and Counterpublics
  • The Public Sphere Today

You can find these episodes here.

“During the past year, the London-based Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (RSA) has burst onto the scene, offering a steady diet of videos created with a TED-like formula. They’re short. They’re animated and visually snappy. And they’re substantive too. But while TED is all about bringing the inspiration, RSA videos tend toward critique. Take the four videos below. Though varied in focus, they all circle around a common theme — the flaws running through our contemporary capitalist system.”

Guest blogger Dan Coleman of OpenCulture has posted a nice compilation of the RSA‘s animated videos on understanding capitalism. Since I am in the middle of listening to a great series by the Teaching Company called Thinking about Capitalism, these videos have been really great in giving me some fascinating perspectives. I love the accompanying animations to these insightful short talks. Great work Royal Society!

Read the rest and watch the videos at Brain Pickings.

You can find more RSA videos here or on their youtube channel along with a lot of other great lectures.

Please enjoy my favorite video in which Matthew Taylor explores the meaning of 21st century enlightenment, how the idea might help us meet the challenges we face today, and the role that can be played by organizations such as the RSA.

“CCEPA promotes the public good through the cultivation and dissemination of knowledge of ethical issues, which helps generate new insights, provide greater awareness, and heal misunderstandings.” (about)

I first came across this organization through Situating Science‘s series called Trust in Science. This five-part series presents some really great speakers on fascinating science policy topics. It is seriously on par with the How to Think about Science series that CBC produced a few years back (which is unfortunately no longer available online). You can then imagine my excitement to discover a whole collection of video series with talks by top scholars in ethics, science and policy studies, management, philosophy, etc… These hosted events (which are only available through the website’s flash player) can be found here.

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Welcome to OpenLearning! Here you will find the useful links to online learning material suxh as academic podcasts, video lectures, and audiobooks; in addition to posting must-see videos on topics of interest.
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