Eyeo Festival Day 2 Recap

Writing this from the charming confines of the Bull Run coffee shop on Lynvale, nestled in a mostly residential part of South Minneapolis, and reflecting on another great day at the 2014 Eyeo Festival over a real deal croissant and some great coffee. It’s a fantastically clear, cool morning in Minneapolis, and I have a spot in front of an open window. Life is good.

So what were the highlights from another day at Eyeo? Let’s take a chronological look this time, beginning with Kim Rees discussion on the future of data. One of the hot topics this year, unsurprisingly, is the entire Snowden/NSA/surveillance/privacy discussion, and how best to manage this entire spectrum in the future. Rees delivered some interesting scenarios, potentially controversial viewpoints, and some tantalizing glimpses into the future of data, included the highly overused ‘Big Data’ term, soon to be replaced by ‘f…ing humongous data’. A major takeaway from her session was that data needs to be widely available, and we somehow have to manage it so that good triumphs over evil (NSA & friends).

Next up for me was Eric Fischer, a mapping and geo data specialist, who is doing some fascinating work with geographic data. One of his focuses (obsessions?) revolves around understanding what makes urban areas walkable. His work was a fascinating litany of examining pedestrian patterns using a variety of sources, including Census data, Twitter tweets, and government data with actual volume counts at intersections in various cities. Great stuff (full disclosure: I love mapping), and I even had the opportunity to spend five minutes speaking with him later in the day about mapping and urban solutions.

After lunch in the sculpture garden, it was back to work taking in a panel discussion on Augmented Education, where the discussion was around providing tools that can help the education community and students to embrace creativity inside and outside the classroom. Great thoughts from all panelists, including Martin Wattenberg and Fernada Viegas, Amit Pitaru, Evelyn Eastmond, and Jer Thorp. Among the interesting solutions discussed was an application for kids to share their creative work known as Scratch.

My day concluded with the creative Darius Kazemi, a web designer by trade who does fantastic (and frequent) small projects on the side; 73 of them in 2013 alone! He took us through a tour of some of his creative, and often humorous work, including Two Headlines, where trending Twitter topics are randomly merged with one another to form often hilarious combinations. Kazemi is also well known for his Random Shopper app, which buys random items on Amazon (limited to books and CDs) each month, and ships them to Kazemi’s residence. His work perfectly embodies what I love about Eyeo – someone previously unknown to me who is doing great, creative work that broadens my thinking.

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Ken Cherven is the Founder and Curator of the Visual-Baseball.com website. He loves to merge baseball data with all sorts of visualization methods - charts, network graphs, maps, etc. to provide greater insight into underlying data patterns. Ken also authors books about baseball and visualization, and loves to listen to jazz while drinking some wine, craft beer, or bourbon.