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Details of Living in Data

Living in Data
Exact title of book
Living in Data
Book author
Jer Thorp
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Mar 09, 2021
File size (in PDF)
2016 kB

Some brief overview of book

A provocative, eye-opening, example-laden exploration of our current and future relationship with data In the fall of 2009, the data artist Jer Thorp wrote a pair of algorithms to inscribe names on the 911 Memorial in Manhattan. The project involved designing a layout that allowed for "meaningful adjacencies"family members, business partners, coworkersto be etched into the bronze in close proximity. Thorp presented his results in competition against another team, a group of financial analysts who had also been working on the problem.

The analysts were confident theyd found the most highly optimized solutiona maximum of about 93 percent of the adjacencies could be satisfiedwhen Thorp, a long-haired artist working on an old broken laptop, presented his layout it was 99. 99 percent solved. The analysts, it turned out, had looked at the data but not at how the data was to be represented.

But Thorp considered each name as a unique unit in a real system. Hed solved a data problem by honoring the people from whom the data came, as well as the world in which that data would live. The memorial project represents Thorps approach to data as a rich medium for personal and community growth.

This human-centered approach has defined his work, from The New York Times to the Museum of Modern Art to the Library of Congress; from a submarine at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico to a boat in the middle of Africa's Okavango Delta; from Manchesters town hall to an abandoned school in St. Louiss north side. In Living in Data, Thorp proves that thinking about data in a human context makes us better problem solvers and builds a healthier relationship between us and our dataone that puts our well-being front and centerand that there is a path forward beyond the extractive, impersonal nature of the "big data" era.

About book author

Thorp is one of the world's foremost data artists and a leading voice for the ethical use of big data. He was The New York Times' first data artist in residence and has served as the innovator in residence at the Library of Congress. His data-inspired artwork has been shown around the world and has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Scientific American, The New Yorker, Popular Science, Fast Company, Business Week, Discover, Wired, and The Harvard Business Review.

Thorp is an adjunct professor in New York Universitys renowned Interactive Telecommunications Program, and is the cofounder of the Office for Creative Research. He lives in New York City. Living in Data is his first book.

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