Download my travel-time map

I am a bit nervous about doing this, but since several people asked, here goes: You can now download the travel-time map of the Netherlands I made in Processing. I have exported applications for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Each download includes the source files, but not the data file. For that, you will need to head to Alper’s site (he’s the guy who pulled the data from 9292 and ANWB). I hope you’ll enjoy playing around with this, or learn something from the way it was put together.

Some notes, in no particular order:

  • Please remember I am not a programmer. The vast majority of this sketch was put together from bits and pieces of code I found in books and online. I have tried to credit all the sources in the code. The full write-up I posted earlier should point you to all the sources too. In short; all the good bits are by other people, the bad code is mine. But who cares, it’s the end-result that counts (at least for me).
  • Related to the previous point is the fact that I cannot figure out under which license (if any) to release this. So the usual CC by-nc-sa license applies, as far as I’m concerned.
  • If this breaks your computer, offends you, makes you cry, or eats your kittens, do not come knocking. This is provided as is, no warranties whatsoever, etc.
  • Why am I nervous? Probably because for me the point of the whole exercise was the process, not the outcome.
  • I can’t think of anything else. Have fun.

Playing With Complexity — slides and notes for my NLGD Festival of Games talk

When the NLGD Foundation invited me to speak at their anual Festival of Games I asked them what they would like me to discuss. “Anything you like,” was what they said, essentially. I decided to submit an abstract dealing with data visualization. I had been paying more and more attention to this field, but was unsuccessful in relating it the other themes running through my work, most notably play. So I thought I’d force myself to tackle this issue by promising to speak about it. Often a good strategy, I’ve found. If it worked out this time I leave for you to judge.

In brief, in the presentation I argue two things: one — that the more sophisticated applications of interactive data visualization resemble games and toys in many ways, and two — that game design can contribute to the solutions to several design issues I have detected in the field of data visualization.

Below are the notes for the talk, slightly edited, and with references included. The full deck of slides, which includes credits for all the images used, is up on SlideShare.

Hello everyone, my name is Kars Alfrink. I am a Dutch interaction designer and I work freelance. At the moment I work in Copenhagen, but pretty soon I will be back here in Utrecht, my lovely hometown.

In my work I focus on three areas: mobility, social interactions, and play. Here is an example of my work: These are storyboards that explore possible applications of multitouch technology in a gated community. Using these technologies I tried to compensate for the negative effects a gated community has on the build-up of social capital. I also tried to balance ‘being-in-the-screen’ with ‘being-in-the-world’ — multitouch technologies tend to be very attention-absorbing, but in built environments this is often not desirable.1

I am not going to talk about multitouch though. Today’s topic is data visualization and what opportunities there are for game designers in that field. My talk is roughly divided in three parts. First, I will briefly describe what I think data visualization is. Next, I will look at some applications beyond the very obvious. Third and last, I will discuss some design issues involved with data visualization. For each of these issues, I will show how game design can contribute.

Right, let’s get started.

Continue reading Playing With Complexity — slides and notes for my NLGD Festival of Games talk

  1. For more background on this project please see this older blog post. More examples of my recent work can be found in my portfolio. []