Today’s the first day of my research residency at CIID in Copenhagen. This three-month residency will complement my studies during the final year at the RCA. During this residency I will focus on my final year projects and engage in practice-based research in the area of interaction design and interface design, for which CIID Research with its broad range of activities and applied research methodology is the perfect place.
In my plan for this academic year, I summarised the research methods I want to apply. I focus on playful experiments and an iterative design process. In a human-centered approach, the needs of the people inform every decision in the design process. This is mostly an informal process and includes substantial user involvement, trial-and-error and iterative prototyping. I want to find new ways to express data networks, their intricate connections and stories behind them.
My main interests lie in — but are not limited to — data visualisation and interaction design in a human context. I want to create insight into complex matter and make our current state of society visible by visualising the data it produces. By inventing new tools I aim to influence the way how people interact with the much-cited ‚data flood‘ which is all around us – are we really drowning in data or is it just a filter and visualisation problem?
I plan to realise three projects until June, which have discrete outcomes, but thematically there is a smooth transition throughout all three projects.
Project 1: Exploring Data Space
Finding new metaphors and interaction paradigms to navigate knowledge spaces.
I want to find new methods to browse content (data) in a kind of multi-dimensional knowledge space. This incorporates interface design and interaction design to develop a system that makes it easy to navigate and discover content. For example, data could be mapped onto a dynamic, 2-dimensional space that allows for filtering in several dimensions.
This project is integrated in the MeLa Project (European Museums in an age of migrations), which I’m part of during my Research Residency at CIID, where I have the opportunity to develop prototypes together with the researchers. The outcome of this research will feed back into my personal work, and also tightly integrates with the findings from my dissertation research on the emergence of patterns within big data sets and facilitating data visualisation as a cultural technique and tool for innovation and thinking.
Project 2: Personal Data Sculptures
Turning data into digital sculptures
I want to build digital sculptures (graphics, interactives or digital objects) that visualise individual personal data. For example, this could be data from personal conversations, calls, emails, geolocation (movement in urban space), but also body movement in sports (snowboarding and skateboarding) and biometric data (heart rate, body temperature). This project is a continuation of my work from last year, where I visualised snowboard movements. Possibly, these sculptures could also be brought into the “real world” by 3d-printing them.
Project 3: Data Visualisation as Interface
Exploring radical new ways of re-thinking HCI paradigms and how we create and interact with digital media. Inventing a new format to store digital content, and a way to visualise and explore it.
I want to explore this area by building a number of small experimental interactive prototypes of software, but probably also some simple hardware, to test my ideas how a different (and better?) kind of interaction with digital media could work. The aim is to redefine the way we interact with computers, with a focus on the daily work practice (creating and manipulating text, image and spreadsheet documents). This idea was inspired by Bret Victor, whose leading principle is to „invent the medium and representations in which the scientists, engineers, and artists of the next century will understand and create systems“. Part of this project is the design of the interface, and part of it is the design of the outcome in data visualisations.
That’s about it — an exciting final year of my studies is ahead!