Monday, 4 June 2012

Lost in Space

Sharing work online can be a lonely experience. Presenting face to face will always generate some kind of reaction, but for all its size the internet sometimes feels very dark and empty, leaving me wondering how my efforts are being received. Page loads and unique visitors are rather crude measures of success, I would much prefer well considered, constructive thoughts left directly through the likes of Flicker or, but rarely does anyone take the time to do this. I am far more likely to uncover comments planted elsewhere, twitter for example, or like last week when I unearthed a brief discussion on my Eurovision piece on (of all places) an Arsenal football club forum.

Perhaps the biggest indication that my work has made an impact comes when others are inspired to create work based upon my own. This may be as straightforward as reusing a colour pallet I created, seen in this example by Jon Schwabish.

Top: Ben Willers.  Bottom: Jon Schwabish 

Sometimes a lot more is borrowed, my World of CO2 piece has clearly struck a chord with volkanolmez who has not only reused the colours for each country precisely, but also the title of the piece and time period from my original. To be honest I prefer my version for a number of reasons (which I will cover in a future post), but seeing my work inspiring others is very rewarding.

Left: Ben Willers. Right: volkanolmez

A more successful piece comes from David Heyman who replied shortly after my Eurovision piece was featured on the Guardian Datablog.
‘I was inspired by this graphic (and the availability of the data) to make an interactive / animated version. It's the same grid concept but the interactivity lets you define a custom date range or playback an animation.
I'm not sure I've gained any new insight into the data from presenting it this way (other than the obvious 'neighbors vote for each other') but maybe there's still something to be learned.’

I limited myself to ten years in my static version, but the interactive nature of this piece allows us to explore much further back than that. With a little effort and a keen eye we can uncover many more trends than I was able to in my attempt. I had great fun playing with various years selected to identifying at what point the UK became so unpopular.

David Heyman

I'm sure I am not the only one who likes to hear how their work has been received, so next time you see something that generates a reaction, don't be afraid to let the designer know.