Drumbeat: visualizing the (open) web

December 3, 2009 § 3 Comments

As I noted last week, we’re in the early stages of defining and rolling out a small handful of Drumbeat bootstrap projects. One that interests me personally is  ‘visualize the web‘: an effort to combine art, design and data to map the internet. The aim is to use real information about what’s happening on the web to help people understand the internet, how it works and what it means.

The maps and visualizations could be practical, or playful -- as long as they help us understand the web. (sources: new scientist and xkcd)

I’ve taken a first shot at writing something up on the project. The wiki includes a full (very drafty) project description. Here’s the high level summary:

The web. Huge, and uncharted.

More than a billion and a half people use the web – for business, for school, for friendship, to express themselves, to love. Despite the importance of the web in our lives, few of us understand how it works. It big, pervasive, complicated. And there are no good maps.

It’s time to make some maps — together.

Visualize the Web is about mapping the web — using data and design to help us understand the internet and where we each fit in.

As a starting point: artists, designers, data nerds and everyday internet users are invited to propose ideas for visualizing the web. These could be literal and insightful. Or playful and thought provoking. The only constraint: use real (public and anonymous) data to tell a story about how it the internet works and what it means.

From there, we roll up our sleeves: working together to make the best design ideas real. Building maps that we can use and update over time to see the living internet, and to help make it better and more open.

At this stage, Visualize the Web is just an idea under the Mozilla Drumbeat umbrella. If you want to help, add your name and contact info below. We’ll be in touch.

I’m currently working with Lee Rainie at Pew Internet and a few others to refine this write up and turn it into a real project. If you’re interested in helping out, or just have questions or suggestions, please comment below or get in touch. We’re doing a first brainstorming call on December 20.

PS. Credit where credit is due: this idea came out of a Drumbeat brainstorm I did w/ Chris Messina a while back. It’s evolved since, and lots of people have brought their own pieces. But Chris deserves credit for putting the idea on the table in the first place.

§ 3 Responses to Drumbeat: visualizing the (open) web

  • I love this idea. I’ve been working on project of Google Map mashup with Twitter called Hungry Garden where we are creating interactive food maps to connect consumers to farmers. We just released vers 2.0 with Twitter integration. One thing we are working on is showing twitter trending #hashtags around location. Sure its been done but HG offers a level of sophistication that is still easy to use but uses Google powerful map technology HG is trying to create economies around place by connecting local friends and neighbors together through their use of social networks like twitter (and soon Facebook).

    Mapping the ‘fall-out” of that social and economic interaction as it happens on the Internet I think is both fascinating and promising.

  • Hi there,
    I am part of the web team of 5 that is responsible for the MNR website. I am interested in this project also because my previous job was a cartography design teacher.
    Would love to be a part of it in any way.

    all the best,
    Heather Collins

  • […] or not. (For example, the Processing for the Web work could be used in the context of the “visualize the (open) web” project proposed as part of Mozilla […]

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