Dissecting Staff Picks: Listen to Wikipedia

Each day, the graphics submitted to Visually are examined by our staff for shining examples of good work. The best are given the badge of Staff Pick. The actual requirements for staff pick are flexible, but there is one hardline requirement: staff picks must be exceptional in some way. Being staff picked is an honor for everyone involved in a project, from the publisher, to the writer, to the designer, to the developer. It means that Visually recognizes the project as a shining example of work in the domain of information design and visual presentation. Listen to Wikipedia is a visualization combined with an audiation. The piece takes the recent changes feed for Wikipedia and turns every edit and user signup into audio and graphics. The concept is on the edge between data art and visualization. While technically, the individual events can be visually decoded into information about what happened, and the overall percentage of edits from different types of users is visible, the general feel of the piece is one of art. The graphics are abstract and visually pleasing, and the audio provides a peaceful background. Different events are given their own unique encodings. Purple circles are edits made by bots, green are by unregistered users, white by registered users. String sounds are subtractions, while the bells are additions. Position and size of the circles is random. User signups appear as a bar at the top, and trigger a long chord. The piece was selected as a staff pick because it takes an interesting data source and sets up a simple concept for communicating that data. The final product is elegant and simple, yet still intriguing and entertaining.

Listen to Wikipedia

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You can read more about the project at the Hatnote Blog.   Drew Skau is Visualization Architect at Visual.ly and a PhD Computer Science Visualization student at UNCC with an undergraduate degree in Architecture. You can follow him on twitter @SeeingStructure

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