Timeline was the toast of Facebook’s F8 developer’s conference in September, but those lucky enough to attend in person were treated to one of the funkier Facebook visualizations we’ve seen: a live-action interactive data visualization called “Connections,” which illustrated the social-networking ties between F8 attendees by splashing sexy light-projected graphics onto the floor around them. If this is a hacker’s idea of a disco party, we need to hang out with hackers a lot more often:
“Connections” was designed by creative agency Obscura Digital. F8-ers could “log in” to the installation via their RFID-equipped conference badges (again: I’m clearly attending the wrong conferences), generating glowing motion-tracked halos around their feet on the darkened floor. As Obscura Digital describes it, “Colored lines extend from the circles connecting people who share one or more of the observed metrics (mutual friends, interests, workplaces, schools, locations, birth sign, or non-English languages). When two or more people, who have mutual connections, stand within close proximity, a slideshow of mutual friends and interests appear between them.”
My favorite part of “Connections” is the huge heads-up display that went along with it, offering a synchronized bird’s-eye view of the live data visualization and a key for deciphering the colors and symbols. At a crowded event like F8 it was probably near impossible to get up close to “Connections” itself, so including this extra perspective was an admirably humane decision by Obscura Digital. Now all I have to do is figure out how to get invited to the next conference they bring their data-disco act to.