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Connections at the MIT Museum

Today I took my Little Brother Patrick to the MIT Museum near Central Square. I had seen a blurb on their website about an exhibit on social media, and I wanted to check it out (and, since it was billed as interactive, I thought he would enjoy it as well, even though he’s 11).

The exhibit, Connections, features a number of interactive art and technology installations from MIT’s Sociable Media Group. I took a few mediocre iPhone pictures of some of the displays, all of which were very interesting. I love the cool stuff that arises when art and technology collide.

The first thing you see when you walk into the museum right now is the piece Metropath(ologies), which consists of several projectors some big white pillars, plus some speakers, a camera, and several screens. Technically, the first thing you see is the disclaimer that your image and voice may be recorded when interacting with the piece, but I think that’s really cool.

 

 

Twitter word clouds projected onto the white pillars of the Metropath(ologies) installation at the MIT Museum, with a visitor moving among them.

Twitter word clouds projected onto white pillars, with a visitor moving among them.

They also have some interesting ways of some Twitter (and other?) feeds; based on the posts they’re from about 2 weeks ago, not live, but I’m not sure what kind of harvesting they do to produce the visualization. As part of another piece, Lexigraphs I, they also have some stylized views of personal word clouds.

 

3-D visualization of Twitter posts from a few weeks ago

3-D visualization of Twitter posts from a few weeks ago

 

Person-shaped Twitter word cloud

Person-shaped Twitter word cloud

One of the other Data Portraits was the piece Themail, which gives a timeline word cloud of personal e-mail correspondence between three close individuals. I have e-mail archives going back a long time, I’d be interested in seeing what these look like over time; aggregated they’d just be a roughly Zipfian distribution of English, but presumably there’d be visible spikes as certain topics came and went.

 

Timelines for three individuals e-mail accounts over 3+ years

Timelines for three individual's e-mail accounts over 3+ years

Finally, there was a live display of data from the Mycrocosm service, of which I couldn’t get a reasonable picture. It seems to be very similar in concept to the tool Daytum, which I started using several weeks ago. The big difference is that MIT is explicitly wanting to study your usage patterns of the Mycrocosm service, and Daytum has a nice Twitter DM method for submitting data items while mobile.

The exhibit is up through September 13th, 2009, so there’s plenty of time to check it out. There are admissions discounts for students, but it’s free if you’re a Big Brother (or Big Sister) there with your Little :oP.

 

 

 

You can click any of the images above to view a larger version, or see the entire (small) gallery.

Posted in Reviews, Social Media Tagged with: , , , , ,

Nicolas Ward

Software engineer in Natural Language Processing research by day; gamer, reader, and aspiring UltraNurd by night. Husband to Andrle
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