Data Viz: Open Source and Sources

Stéphanie Vidal

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The main question with data today, is not so much their existence but what is processed, their continuous use and applications,”” said Jérémie Zimmerman from La Quadrature du Net, a French organisation that aims to defend the rights and liberty of Internet users. Today, data is everywhere around us. They were around yesterday but we did not have the means to work with and visualize them on massive scale before. Thanks to the Internet and the value of sharing and transparency engendered by its long-time users, we can nowadays access and find tools to process massive amounts of data and reveal information that used to stay hidden in lists of numbers.

On one side, companies, governments and media put more and more datasets at our disposal. On the other hand there is more and more specialized and specified softwares that are provided to treat and visualize this profusion of information, and many of these tools are indeed, open source.

To play on words, information sources could be considered as “”open sources””. Like never before, anyone may gain access to a significant amount of raw information via an Internet connection. Of course, not all of the datasets are available and sometimes we would prefer this raw information to be delivered at in better formats, but so much is ready to be cooked.

In terms of expertise, datasets and softwares are no longer just the turf of scientists and journalists, artists and amateurs are exploring them. The increasing number of data-visualizations produced by people or making platforms that help people to create their own visualizations is an emerging tred.

This presentation, focuses on data visualization. It puts in perspective the notion of information and its possible changes in this “”open sources”” world. The presentation of several examples taken in from media and some artists portfolio is shown, as well as paths for audience to get involved.

Etymologically, information is what is put into form. Does the fact that we can all potentially process databases, extract meanings out of the information and visually represent data thanks to open source tools, modify the shape that information used to have and the how we used to interact with it?