Tag: Data Visualization


Measure of America & Humantific

Celebrating 10 Years of Collaboration!

Asking “How are the people doing? rather than “How is the economy doing? Measure of America has become a legendary societal changemaking initiative. Focused on inspiring and informing policymakers regarding the need for human-centered change in US society Measure of America has been publishing a much needed form of evidence-based journalism since 2008.

Evolving into a multifaceted platform, the Measure of America initiative has become a role model for many other publications now actively involved in societal sensemaking for changemaking. From the outset, Humantific has proudly partnered with the Measure of America team and its been a great journey!

Read about the Measure of America initiative history and future here in this 10th Anniversary update.



A Portrait of New York City

Launching this Week!

“While many measures tell us how the economy is doing A Portrait of New York City tells us how ordinary people are doing.” 

A Portrait of New York City 2018: Well-Being in the Five Boroughs and the Greater Metro Area is being published and launched this week!

Authored by the Kristen Lewis, Sarah Burd-Sharps and the Measure of America team,  A Portrait of New York City 2018 will examine well-being and access to opportunity for different geographies and demographic groups in New York City and the greater New York–New Jersey–Connecticut metropolitan area using the human development framework and index.

“The report will also examine a range of issues that contribute to and/or are compounded by the well-being challenges faced by many New York City communities, such as health inequities, racism, residential segregation, and mass incarceration.

The American Human Development Index, a supplement to the gross domestic product and other money metrics, tells the story of how ordinary people are doing. The index is based on the Human Development Index developed by the United Nations, the gold standard for measuring the well-being of people in every nation.

A Portrait of New York City 2018 will present the ranked index for 170 neighborhood and town clusters in the New York metro area; for the five boroughs and for 188 neighborhood tabulation areas in New York City; for the four major racial and ethnic groups; for women and men; and for US- and foreign-born residents.

In addition to the written report, the project will include interactive maps and a photo essay.”

Learn more about Measure of America here.


SenseMaking Rising


Beyond Data Visualization

Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter posts to his LinkedIn blog:

Visual SenseMaking continues to rise and for us that’s all good news. Some of our Humantific readers will know that long before the “Big Data” wave arrived, Elizabeth Pastor and I first presented on the subject of how information informs innovation at a Cooper Hewitt Design Museum conference, here in New York City in 2001.

Since that time, we have learned more and more by working with organizational leaders using visualized information as fuel to help tackle complex challenges and drive change. By 2001 we already knew that SenseMaking in an innovation context involves more then just making sense of data. 🙂

The secret sauce of Humantific has always been the combination of SenseMaking and ChangeMaking, how to integrate various forms of insight directly into the cocreation or innovation process.

Being engaged in this work for a prolonged period of time certainly accelerated our understanding early on, regarding how methods need to change in order to be reflective of this information-based fuel. Writing an R&D type book on the history of innovation methods helped to drive home this realization. 🙂

For us the vast overblown overemphasis on “Big Data” has been a bit of a side show distraction but realization is finally emerging in the marketplace that data itself is not a magic bullet. Unless you widen the inputs beyond just data and integrate those insights into to a learnable changemaking process, nothing much is going to occur with just the data visualized.

In our Humantific work, data is not the king of the castle but rather is recognized as one form or one dimension of insight that we want to weave into the SenseMaking puzzle. In our Humantific practice we created the 5 Dimension model of SenseMaking that includes the integration of upstream framing, ie; making sense of the challenge or opportunity space……

What we are teaching is how to operate and move forward constructively in contexts where the challenges and opportunities are uncertain.

What we are not teaching is downstream assumption-based Design Thinking methods. By 2001 we had already figured out that in the context of complex organizational and societal contexts, assuming up front that you know what the challenges are does not make much sense.

Participants in our Complexity Navigation skill-building program receive this workbook. We are trying to decide whether we should publish a public version of this book this year so if you would like to send us your vote feel free!

See the entire post here:



Data Visualization 1817

20170605090658_00001We love sharing the amazing history of Statistical Diagraming later called Information Design…later called Data Visualization. Also called Visual SenseMaking (broader subject).

This is a series of diagrams from Geographia Sacra 1817 published by Robert Wilkinson in London. We are most interested in HOW the diagrams were being made in that early era 200 years ago!

Above shows: Early “Chrono-Genealogical Chart” of the “Second Age of the World” showing the “Origins of Languages” Geographia Sacra 1817 Humantific Collection New York City.

20170605104419_00001“Chrono-Genealogical Chart” of the “Third Age of the World” Geographia Sacra 1817 Humantific Collection New York City.

20170605104450_00001“Chrono-Genealogical Chart” of the “Fifth Age of the World” Geographia Sacra 1817 Humantific Collection New York City.


HUMANTIFIC: Making Sense of the Early SenseMakers

HUMANTIFIC: Lost Stories in Information Design History

HUMANTIFIC: Making Sense of: “What Killed The Infographic?”


HUMANTIFIC: Isotype: Building Bridges

HUMANTIFIC: Data Visualization 1890





















E. Pastor Keynotes Design Intelligence

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“How Can Design Intelligence Open Our Mind & Help Us Explore What’s Next?”

Humantific CoFounder Elizabeth Pastor will be keynote speaker at Parsons Design Intelligence / Future of Work conference on Saturday April 30, 2016 in New York City.

“The Design Intelligence Conference will be held on April 30, 2016 at The New School and will feature a panel discussion, keynote, skill-based workshops, and networking opportunities for both New School students and the greater design community.

This year’s conference will be driven by questions related to The Future of Work. Through this immersive day-long experience we will explore this theme from various perspectives and sectors and through the course of the day have the opportunity to talk about design in the context of new design firms, new models and new work.”



DATA2GO.NYC Deadline Extension!


DATA2GO.NYC Data Visualization Challenge has extended its deadline to the end of January!

DATA2GO.NYC is inviting visualizers, data lovers, changemakers and designers to create an informative and beautiful visualization(s) that helps illuminate strengths or challenges in NYC neighborhoods using unique data made available throughDATA2GO.NYC. A very incredible tool!

Continue Reading..


DATA2GO.NYC | Visualization Challenge


There is a new way to measure what matters in New York City! Measure of America and Humantific are delighted to announce the DATA2GO.NYC | Visualization Challenge.

In this challenge we invite specialists in the exploding information design and data visualization fields to use the unique dataset made available through the just launched DATA2GO.NYC website. The goal is to create informative and beautiful visualizations that help to illuminate strengths or challenges in New York City neighborhoods and how they shape the lives, choices, and opportunities of the people who live there.

Continue Reading..


Data Visualization Meets Co-Creation

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The good folks at Markets for Good / A Social Sector Powered by Information recently invited Humantific to contribute to their exploratory conversation on the subject of Data Visualization in the social sector.

You can read the full unedited version of GK VanPatter’s contribution including references to deciphering your organizational challenges in this downloadable PDF: Data Visualization Meets CoCreation or read the short version on the Markets for Good blog.

“Time is flying by around the Big Data phenomenon so let’s shift gears and kick it up a few notches from what your readers might be expecting here… Big Data is occurring, not in isolation, but rather in parallel to numerous other paradigm shifts …Lets set aside the tactics of Big Data for a moment and consider the bigger strategic picture…What these new generation leaders have in mind looks more like data thinking meets complex problem visualization, data meets and informs strategic cocreation.” GK VanPatter

Humantific Survey / Social Sector Challenge Mapping

From the 10 challenges listed in the attached document choose 3 challenges that are most important to your organization right now and place them in chronological order of importance (with most important at the top). Feel free to post them on the Markets for Good blog or below. If you have another challenge not listed, feel free to add it to your list.  We will share the results.

Related Posts:

Markets for Giving Workshop

Markets For Good Heavy Lift

Mapping Markets For Good


Scrooge Meets Data Analytics

We love the 1951 film adaptation of Christmas Carol story and its relationship to data analytics and data storytelling so we are reposting this for our readers who might have missed it last year…:-)

You have no doubt watched the classic Scrooge a million times but try watching it this year anew with your Making Sense of Big Data hat on. Is data analytics a form of time travel? You betcha! Take a wild guess where data analysts are most often traveling to? Whats often missing in data analytics chit-chat? View Scrooge and reflect!

Written by social change advocate Charles Dickens in 1843, Christmas Carol contains so many themes that are relevant today. It can be viewed as a story about poverty and injustice, redemption and transformation, the demise of industrial capitalism, workaholics versus lifeaholics, corporate values, how not to create corporate cultures, ghosts, greed and morality, the reenvisioning of philanthropy, etc.

What Dickens originally had in mind in 1843 was an advocacy-oriented report regarding the state of the poor and the need for change in 19th century England. Instead of doing a report he decided to create a softer, much more sticky and enduring advocacy, in the form of the Christmas Carol story.

We could not help but notice that miraculously the structure of this classic film maps directly to our SenseWHEN lens that we often use in transformation work with organizational leaders. In SenseWHEN we ask: When is the picture that you want to create? Are you seeking to create pictures of Yesterday, Today or Tomorrow? In the context of the film this is the equivalent to visitation from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.

Thinking business school case studies for a moment, one could say that Ebenezer Scrooge was in fact an organizational leader. In the film we get to see him embark on what turns out to be a journey to create a new personal and organizational strategy. He takes the journey unwillingly but perhaps what is most important to take note of in the film is where he ends up in relation to what the data was projecting.

Of course from a cinematic perspective the pictures seen in the film of Yesterday (Christmas Past), Today (Christmas Present) and Tomorrow (Christmas Yet to Come) all look the same visually. In real life, real world we would recognize that two of those views, Yesterday and Today, could be / would be based on data and one would be a Tomorrow prediction based on existing patterns. The picture of Christmas Yet to Come was, on Ebenezer’s behalf, a product of 1843 predictive analytics in action.

This is beautifully remarkable when we consider that our own recent study of two centuries of data visualizations showed that 98% were pictures of Yesterday and or Today. Out of almost 1000 data visualizations in the study only 2% were attempts at pictures of Tomorrow. Here in this 1951 film we can see not only a picture of Tomorrow but also coming into view is what role it played in the formulation of Ebenezer’s strategy.

We noticed that the future picture that was based on data projections turns out to be NOT the future that comes true for Ebenezer. In a wonderfully entertaining way the story makes clear that there are multiple futures possible. Of course data based prediction is useful but not necessarily conclusive.

After seeing the picture of Tomorrow based on behavioral projections, the film shows Scrooge waking up in a state of enlightenment to begin immediately redesigning his future in real time starting immediately on Christmas morning. The future that Ebenezer now has in mind for himself and his organization is quite opposite to the future that was based on projecting patterns from Yesterday and Today into the future.

In this sense the story brings into focus a magical juncture that is known by many of us doing generative future work to exist between today and tomorrow. It is a moment that occurs after the three SenseWHEN views have appeared and been absorbed. In the film we see Scrooge in that magic moment essentially stepping through a doorway or gateway rejecting one future and embracing the possibility of designing another. It is a beautiful thing!

Remarkably we see very similar patterns (without the ghosts) of reflection, analysis, generation, recombination, reformulation, gateway in much of the futuring work that we do with organizations today.

Rather than viewing data as prescriptive of future outcomes it is more often being used as fuel to inspire and create “straw man” scenarios, which may or may not ultimately be embraced as part of future design. For many enlightened leaders the purpose of data based scenarios is less about prescribing and more about informing possibilities.

While more and better data makes for better future projections the underlying physics of the universe have not changed much since the time of Dickens. Until humans figure out how to bend the laws of the universe the future remains one step ahead of us, whether we all like it or not.

If Ebenezer had mistaken the data projected future as the one and only option, if he took it as prescriptive rather than informative his transformation and that of his organization would not have been realized, at least not in the particularly positive way that comes into view as the film ends with Scrooge walking into his newly designed future. Lots to think about there.

Until someone takes the link down you can check out the 1951 film starring Alastir Sim as Scrooge for free on YouTube.


Big Data For WHEN?

Note: This post was first published here on the Humantific blog on December 22, 2012.


Out of Balance Competition Winners

The international competition: “OUT OF BALANCE – CRITIQUE OF THE PRESENT, Information Design after Otto Neurath” has announced the 2012 winners. Organized by the Berlin based magazine ARCH+ and the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, the competition was sponsored by Humantific, Autodesk, and Museum für Architektur und Ingenieurkunst. The competition judging took place recently in Berlin.

PRESS RELEASE Translated from German: “There were 180 entries submitted to the competition by 499 participants, who organized themselves in teams of varying sizes. About 62 per cent of the participants were students, the rest came from freelance offices or temporary working groups. The high percentage of students can be explained by the fact that the design or architecture faculties of a number of universities have incorporated the competition into their curriculum. The participants from the fields of architecture and environmental planning constitute about 49 per cent, and about 37 per cent hail from the fields of design, the fine arts, film, photography and new media. The remaining 14 per cent come from the social sciences, economics, communication studies, cultural studies, journalism and other professions.

It was not easy to make a selection among the 180 entries submitted. The jury decided to award six first prizes 2000 €, six second prizes 1000€, and five commendations 400 € (see the appendix). The pleasingly high number of competitors from 18 countries demonstrates the broad international interest not only in Information Design but also in the burning questions of today.

The pollution of the environment and the ecological footprint of the affluent societies constituted a larger thematic complex within the framework of the competition, with a special emphasis on possible changes of behavior. The social division of society as a result of increasing disparities of income was picked out as a central theme in many of the entries and examined with regard to the inequality of opportunity and to the effects of poverty on the living conditions. Onemain focal point in this context was the analysis of socio-spatial segregation by examining concrete examples of individual cities. Migration and “migrant labor” were taken up as a phenomenon which becomes more and more important against the backdrop of globalization, and both were documented with regard not only to social exclusion but also to the cultural enrichment of society.

Some entries dealt exclusively with the disastrous living conditions of migrant workers. A further thematic complex accentuated the public tasks and services which constitute the basis of the cohesion of a society: educational institutions, health care, provision of affordable accommodation, etc. Here the main attention was directed to the questions of accessibility and of the effects of privatization.

In the context of the problem of societal cohesion it also came to an analysis of the processes of political education, formation of opinion and participation. The graphic transformation of the contents is as diverse as the subject matters chosen by the competitors.

Following Otto Neurath, many entries developed their own iconography and original graphic forms in order to depict quantitative relations. Aside from these »classic« information diagrams there were also attempts at other, completely new ways of conveyance and of addressing the audience. And, most strikingly, it was not so much the technical potential of electronic media but methodical considerations which played a central role.

In Information Design, aside from the depiction of empirical facts via quantitative details – Neurath’s “language of numbers” –, the directly conveyed statement via qualitative aspects seems to gain in significance. As much as these approaches may differ, they have one thing in common: the recourse to narrative forms in the communication of contents. Or, briefly, a story is told.

Whether graphically or photographically, cinematographically or linguistically, whether with the means of collage or in the form of separate depictions, whether as fiction or as satire, whether with understatement or with hyperbole – all this is more or less of secondary importance against the experimental character of this new form of “information diagram”.

The results of the competition will be published in a special edition of ARCH+, and there are also plans to organize a small exhibition which will travel between the various universities involved in the competition.


Heinz Bude, Social Scientist/Economist
Joost Grootens, Graphic Artist
Sabine Kraft, Editor ARCH+
Joachim Krausse, Cultural Scientist
Philipp Oswalt, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation
Philippe Rekacewicz, Geographer/Cartographer
Simon Rogers, The Guardian
Christian Weiss, Autodesk
GK VanPatter, Humantific
Ursula Kleefisch-Jobs, M:AI

You can download the PDF of winning entries in English here.


Feel at Home in Your Home
Team (TU Berlin): Eleonore Harmel (Architecture), Mathias Burke (Architecture)

A Glimpse Over the Horizon
Team (YAAY, Basel, Switzerland): Indre Grumbinaite (Designer), Darjan Hil (Economist), Safak Korkut (Visual Communication), Nicole Lachenmeier (Designer), Kurosch Hadinia (Sociologist)

The Social Question of Democracy
Team (Berlin University of the Arts): Simon Schindele (Design), Young Sam Kim (Design), Philipp Koller (Design), Dovile Aleksaite (Design), Theresia Kimmel (Design), Sebastian Bödeker (Social Sciences)

Eisenhüttenstadt Out of Balance
Team (BTU Cottbus): Martin Maleschka (Architecture), Konstanze Jonientz (Architecture)

Chinese MigrantWorkers
Team (Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing/China): Wu YiTing (Design), Ma Pengbin (Design), Hou Ruimiao (Design), Gao Yang (Design), ZhuWenqi (Design)

Urban Soil in the Anthropocene
Development (University of Virginia/USA): Seth Denizen (Landscape Architect)


World Food
Team (HfG, Schwäbisch Gmünd): Stefanie Huber (Design), Sara Hausmann (Design), Diana Mühlhauser (Design)

Meat Eats Life
Development (Aachen University of Applied Sciences): Verena Mandernach (Design)

The Gutters are Filled with Gold
Team (SV, Berlin): Nayeli Zimmermann (Designer), Jenny Baese (Designer), Thomas Le Bas (Designer), Hanna Hilbrandt (Architect), Fiona McDermott (Architect), Anna Richter (Social Scientist), Laura Colini (Architect)

Shisha Bar as Social Environment
Development (RWTH Aachen): Michel Kleinbrahm (Architecture)

From Continuous Flow to Prepaid Drops
Team (ParaArtFormations, Berlin): Marcela Lopez (Ecologist), Miodrag Kuc (Architect), Juan Esteban Naranjo (Designer)

Bradford: Liquid Mixotopia
Team (Manchester School of Architecture, UK): Paul Gallacher (Architecture), Jack Stewart (Architecture), Abhi Chauhan (Architecture), Fatimah Abboud (Architecture), Hu Lin (Architecture)


Luxury Dirt
Team (Aachen University of Applied Sciences): Ulrike Rechmann (Design), Julia Roß (Design)

Team (BerlinWeißensee School of Art): Julia Pietschmann (Design), Henriette Artz (Design), Sebastian Jehl (Design)

‘Mainstay of Democracy’ or Mindless Papers with Opinion-Forming Power?
Team (fraujansen kommunikation): Angela Jansen (Design), Dr. Christian Gotthardt (Sociologist), Dr. Gert Hautsch (Journalist), Gerd Siebecke (Journalist)

The Sea-Level is Rising
Team (Berlin): Niklas Kuhlendahl (Architect), Max Soneryd (Artist)

Data is a Matter of Perspective
Team (Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel): Uwe Steffen (Design), Benedikt Schipper (Design)



You can see the descriptions in German here

Hopefully next year we will see many more entries from the USA!


Learning From Otto Neurath See Here:

Before, During & After Isotype
Isotype Building Bridges