The art of perception: Seeing a poor neighborhood as a work of art

Amid Cairo’s brick buildings and heaping piles of trash is a sprawling work of art, which, at first, looks messy and incoherent. But when you stand on the nearby hillside and read the spray-painted Arabic “calligraffiti,” as its creator Tunisian-French artist eL Seed calls it, the message reads loud and clear: “If one wants to […]

Counterpoint and the hidden structure of choreographic knowledge

In her TEDxColumbus talk from 2009, Norah Zuniga Shaw tells the story behind Synchronous Objects, an interdisciplinary, collaborative project which involved translating choreographic elements from a dance into data that were then used to create a series of data visualizations. During the project, collaborators started using the concept of counterpoint to explore the deep layers […]

Geoffrey Leech | Associative meaning

Conceptual Meaning Logical, cognitive, or denotative content Conceptual meaning is the cognitive content of words; it can be expressed by features or by primitives: conceptual meaning is “deep” in that it expresses phenomena that are deeply embedded in language (Velardi, Fasolo, & Pazienza, 1991). Associative Meanings Connotative: What is communicated by virtue of what language refers to; thoughts […]

Simon Levin (Ecology) | The problem of pattern and scale in ecology

It is argued that the problem of pattern and scale is the central problem in ecology, unifying population biology and ecosystems science, and marrying basic and applied ecology. Applied challenges, such as the prediction of the ecological causes and consequences of global climate change, require the interfacing of phenomena that occur on very different scales […]

SCFlashMob | Superconductivity Dance

Created for the online science museum, this dance flash mob illustrates the behavior of electrons in a superconductor. Superconductors are materials which, at very low temperatures, can conduct electric currents without any resistance. That means that the current can flow forever with no energy loss. Reference | When electrons flashmob (interactive site) SCFlashMob […]

On the distinction between work groups and teams

Groups do not become teams simply because that is what someone calls them…A working group’s performance is a function of what its members do as individuals. A team’s performance includes both individual results and what we call “collective work products.”…Whatever it is, a collective work product reflects the joint, real contribution of team members…The essence […]

Microsoft Design • Bassett & Partmers | Connecting

What is Interaction Design? Connecting explores this question with some of the industry’s foremost thought leaders. When digital and physical worlds become one, new behaviors become possible, enabling connected humans with a collective capacity to change the world…. It’s not very different from what happened, you know, during the Cambrian explosion when cells began to […]

The power of networks: Knowledge in an age of infinite interconnectedness | Manuel Lima

I’m going to talk today about the power of networks and the challenge of mapping an increasingly complex world. And I’m actually gonna start this talk with trees…This widespread metaphor it’s so so popular because it really expresses a human desire for order, for symmetry, for hierarchy, for simplicity, for balance and unity. Trees are […]

Isabel Behncke (TED) | Evolution’s gift of play, from bonobo apes to humans

Bonobos, like humans, love to play throughout their entire lives. Play is not just child’s games. For us and them, play is foundational for bonding relationships and fostering tolerance. It’s where we learn to trust and where we learn about the rules of the game. Play increases creativity and resilience, and it’s all about the […]

Alex “Sandy” Pentland (Harvard Business Review) | The new science of building great teams

When we set out to document the behavior of teams that “click,” we noticed we could sense a buzz in a team even if we didn’t understand what the members were talking about. That suggested that the key to high performance lay not in the content of a team’s discussions but in the manner in […]

Meet the Elements: Atoms, elements, and interactions

The music video for the song, “Meet the Elements,” is an “animated, upbeat ode to the periodic table of elements[.]” The periodic table visually organizes structural and chemical relationships among the various elements, while the music video offers a playful glimpse into the types of interactions among elements that — “like a box of paints […]

winston mereology taxonomy

More than the sum: Understanding relationships between parts and wholes

| Parts, wholes, and relationships | In a paper on meronymic relationships, researchers described three dimensions and six specific types of part-whole relationships. Their descriptions provide terminology for comparing and contrasting the various ways parts and wholes can be related. Although emergence/cause and effect is not identified as its own type, it is most accurately […]

Antwerp Central Station – Belgium | Sound of Music Flash Mob

More than 200 dancers were performing their version of “Do Re Mi”, in the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone […]

perpetual ocean

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio | Perpetual Ocean

This is an animation of ocean surface currents from June 2005 to December 2007 from NASA satellites. Watch how bigger currents like the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean and the Kuroshio in the Pacific carry warm waters across thousands of miles at speeds greater than four miles per hour (six kilometers per hour); how […]

Fibonacci TED Talk

Arthur Benjamin (TED) | The magic of Fibonacci numbers

Fibonacci was actually named Leonardo of Pisa, and these numbers appear in his book “Liber Abaci,” which taught the Western world the methods of arithmetic that we use today. In terms of applications, Fibonacci numbers appear in nature surprisingly often. The number of petals on a flower is typically a Fibonacci number, or the number […]

music animation machine

Bach • Stephen Malinowski | Toccata and fugue in D minor

The subtleties and intricate patterns at the core DNA of western classical music—which have enchanted and fascinated people for centuries—still challenge us today: how do we find our way into a musical language developed long ago and containing considerable structural complexities? Musician and inventor Stephen Malinowski uses a simple visual approach to stimulate our ability […]


One is one … or is it? Counting, units, and the (relative) value of the concept of one

Interaction involves relationships, and relationships involve the ways in which things are connected to each other. It all begins with the individual thing or unit of one. One is, by definition, the smallest whole number. So it may feel like a very simple idea. Yet when we question this idea, we find that the concept […]

image of blessed unrest project

YES! Magazine | We Are Many: Chris Jordan captures our blessed unrest

Jordan recently released a new work that tries to convey a fact that’s just as mind-boggling, but much more heartening: the number of people working to build a more just and sustainable world. E Pluribus Unum is 24 feet square, composed of aluminum panels laser etched with the names of “one million organizations around the […]

ISEN Connectivity Map

Datascope Analytics (ISEN) | ISEN Connectivity Map

The ISEN (The Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern University) Connectivity Map is designed to enable researchers, administrators, funding agencies, and donors to explore ISEN’s interconnectivity. In particular, this visualization focuses on the relationship between ISEN Affiliates through their shared faculties, focus areas, and categories (network diagram) and the number of ISEN Affiliates with […]

math cartoon of 1 + 1 = 11

Arithmetic of patterns

Any interaction involves three primary components: the individual units, the individual relationships among units, and the collective whole of the individual units and their relationships. Although different types of interactions involve different types of units and relationships, these components define the core pattern of interactions. This core pattern can be compared to simple mathematics, which […]

image of sychronous objects

From dance to data to objects: Visualizing choreographic structure

What else, besides the body, might physical thinking look like? — William Forsythe REFERENCE Animating choreography | Norah Zuniga Shaw We made this project. It’s called Synchronous Objects. And we call it a choreographic digitalization project. If you don’t know what that means, that’s ok. We kind of made it up. Basically, it’s [data] visualization […]