Information Machine

By | November 11, 2014

In the film Information Machine, the narrator describes people store information “in active memory bank” and use the information to “sort out and relate to the problem”. The narrator calls people “artists”. Human brains are described as if they are machines when information is being processed and stored but when information is taken out of brains with meaning, brains are no longer mechanic but artistic and the expressed information has unique characteristics. When people utilize information or data, they can create new meanings through various ways of expression and display.

For example, in “A Map and Some Pins”, Sherratt shows two different images of the same record search.

 

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One is with plain file images. The other one has images of faces. Those images of people give characters to each search result and the search results have more intriguing effects even though the records are the same. Somehow, pictures of people in black-and-white and sepia gave me a sense of nostalgia or melancholy and made me curious about them even though I’ve never met those people. The design of delivering or displaying data is crucial because when the design is boring, plain and dry, people might overlook the information even if the information is very important to digest. Sherratt created a new meaning or added more power/value to the data. “Sharing of open data is about…letting people create new meanings.” I totally agree that open data gives people opportunities to see from various perspectives and “create new meanings” and values.

What about search results on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing? How search results on Google can influence viewers to digest information displayed. Data/information aggregation is done automatically and mechanically. Even though information is out there on the internet, how those search engines pick up and order information can affect understanding information. We will never know what is excluded and filtered. This is my concern for information and how it is displayed.