posted by Paolo Ciuccarelli
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012


Last weekend – May 19 & 20 – was the weekend of the Maker Faire: “A two-day, family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement“, says the header of the website. The event is (yet) another idea of Dale Dougherty, the founder of Make Magazine, one of the main references for the Maker movement.

The movement is quite active also in Italy nowadays. “Make” and “Open” have been indubitably two of the key-words of the last Design Week in Milano; some weeks before another event celebrated in Rome the Maker movement: World Wide Romethe Makers edition – with an outstanding line of speakers: Chris AndersonMassimo Banzi and Dale Dougherty himself, among the others.

In this period we’re working hard on social media at DensityDesign, with a series of different projects. We decided to track the event in Rome, following the #makers12 hash-tag. We collected around 6.000 tweets in the 24 hours of March the 9th. Here is the visualization developed by Stefania Guerra (with a strong support from Michele Mauri and Matteo Azzi) as the very first exercise of her internship in our lab.


Apart from the official Twitter account of the event, @worldwiderome, Riccardo Luna/@riccardowired – the anchor of the event and former director of Wired magazine, Italian edition – and Chris Anderson/@chr1sa are the most cited speakers. Anderson, Dourgherty/@dalepd and Banzi/@mbanzi didn’t use Twitter during the event, at least not with the official hash-tag. Luca Perugini/@perugini has been the most productive Twitter user, as usual!

One of the tags most frequently associated to #makers12 is – you could guess it – #arduino. Arduino is certainly one of the innovation stories we should be proud of in Italy, and I’m very happy to see that Massimo Banzi will talk about it at TEDGlobal2012.  The topic this year is, again, Radical Openness.

posted by Paolo Ciuccarelli
Friday, April 27th, 2012

VisualExplorations course > Contents overview

A synthetic overview of the contents we’ll face in the first course of the Visual Explorations program (

Week #1 | BASICS | May 07-11, 2012

* history and foundations

* why we do visualize?

* the grammar of data and information visualization

* the raw materials: data, Open Data, Linked Open Data

* the processes: gathering, organization, pre-production

* back to Excel: preparing the visualization process

Week #2 | TOOLBOX | 14-18 maggio 2012

* semi-automatic  production of semi-finished visualization artifacts;

* experimenting with visualization tools (Tableau, Google motion charts, treemaps, Raw …);
– R (applied statistics);
– Viz in Illustrator;
– Scriptographer + js;
– Cytoscape.

* towards a communicative final product.

Week #3 | WORKSHOP | May 21-25, 2012

* from (your) dataset to the production and publication of a communicative visualization;

* visualization and narration: applying storytelling to data.

Week #4 | DIGITAL NATIVES (DATA) | May 28 – June 01, 2012

* from structured data to social media and digital foot prints: mining and refining user generated (digital) contents;

* dynamic and interactive visualization;

* from paper to mobile and handheld devices.

posted by Michele Mauri
Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Visualizing Twitter

In the framework of our researches, we are focusing on twitter visualization. This social platform indeed offers several opportunities for data visualization: social ties analysis, links between geography and themes/languages, real-time visualization of a particular topic (like a conference), or again to analyse a past topic and its “storyfication”.

We spent last week recognizing recent developments related to the topic, identifying three main fields:

  • Real-time visualizations: visualizing twitter stream in realtime during conferences or big events.
  • Visual search: online tools that create a dynamic visual output for a twitter search.
  • Storytelling: the use of visualization to tell an event in the past. There are both interactive and static examples.

We’d like to share with you a selection of these examples. Selected artworks have been created in the last three years.

Visual search

TWITWHEEL (2011) is a tool that shows in the form of a circle the connections between people that are tweeting about the same thing.

BREAST CANCER CONVERSATION (2011, GE) is a visualization tool that allows to explore in real-time tweets about breast cancer.  Its way to organize by topics, stories or people help understand the giant nebula of dots.

MENTIONMAPP (2011) is useful if you want to see the map of the entities mentioned by a user and hashtags related.

REVISIT (2010, Stefaner Moritz) is a real-time visualization of the latest twitter messages (tweets) around a specific topic, more it provides a sense of the temporal dynamics in the twitter stream, and emphasizes the conversational threads established by retweets and @replies.

ECOSPHERE (2011, CNN) is a real-time Twitter Visualiser used to aggregate tweets tagged with #COP17, during Durban Conference on Climate Change. The result was an instant snapshot of how the world saw climate change.

HASHTAGIFY (2011, Daniele Mazzini) allows to see clearly what hashtags are related to the one searched. The weight of the connecting line indicates how relevant is the hashtag.

TWITT3D (2010, StudioIMC and Web5Design) displays a twitter page in a 3d map explorable just moving the mouse up and down.

SPOT (2012, Jeff Clark) is an interactive real-time Twitter visualization that uses a particle metaphor to represent tweets. The tweet particles are called spots and get organized in various configurations to illustrate information about the topic of interest. The more useful configurations are by words, timeline and groups.

TWITTERMAP (2009) shows on a map tweets about a topic, depending on the location of the user.

FIREFOX TWEET MACHINE (2010, Quodis Lab) is a graphic visualization of Firefox activity on Twitter.

Real-Time Visualization

VISIBLETWEETS (2009, The Man In Blue) visualize Twitter messages through a simple animation and color background.

TWITTWALL PRO (2010, Tweet Wall Pro) Guests are visually encouraged to send tweets during event, which results in
a worldwide real time buzz and greater exposure. Tweets appear on a screen (Twitter Wall), as they are sent, encouraging audience participation and promoting your
event as it happens. Don’t want critics? No problem! There are filters.

CTC TWITTERWALL (2010, Tribal DDB Worldwide) This mural displays live twitter postings and photos from travellers enjoying their trips in Canada.  Even hassled passersby could take pause and interact with the thousands of experiences being posted to the mural in real time.


SUPERBOWL (2012, Asim Mittal) The visual map of anyone who tweeted about Superbowl, with particular attention to United States and United Kingdom, the most active tweeter outside US.

SUPERCHATTER (2012, Colle + McVoy) analyses everything related to Superbowl, and visualizes in a graph showing time and tweet per minutes, the trends of topics like team, food.

SXSW FESTIVAL (2012, Mass Relevance) An infographic with everything from the most retweeted tweets and photos to the most-mentioned brands.

ECLIPSE CONFERENCE (2011, Cate Huston) This infographic wants to explore temporal rhythms around ESE conference, for example to pick out more popular or particularly tweet-able sessions.

SPANISH CONGRESS (2011, Guillermo del Fresno) This graph presents the spanish congressmen with an account in Twitter and the connections between them.
 Bipartisan system?

YEAR IN HASHTAG (2011, Claudia Vago, Luca Alagna, Marina Petrillo, Maximiliano Bianchi, Mehdi Tekaya) gathers lots of events from 2011 seen from the citizen point of view. Its simple interface is made of significant images of the event, and a short description followed by videos, tweets and photos.  Events can be browsed also by month and place.

STORIFY (2012, Xavier Damman + Burt Herman) gives the user the possibility to create his own story using photos, videos and status taken from social network like Facebook, You Tube and Twitter.

posted by admin
Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Città Polifoniche: a contribution on TafterJournal

We’re glad to announce our contribution on Tafterjournal. We’re presenting the article “Città polifoniche. Visualizzazione di User Generated Content geo-localizzati a supporto della comprensione dei fenomeni urbani”
that summarizes our field of research on digital traces at the urban scale.

posted by Lucia Pigliapochi
Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Jaime Serra works | Visual Journalism

Lucia Pigliapochi for DensityDesign Lab

On tuesday night at CaixaForum in Barcelona, I had the pleasure to attend the reading of the Columns that Jaime Serra published en La Avanguardia since 2010. The occasion was the book presentation of Una paradoja domenical (A Sunday paradox) that presents a selection of his columns with an infographic poster on the back side.

Jaime Serra is the head of infographic and illustration department of La Vanguardia, the catalonian journal. Since 1990 he has been worked visualizing information and ideas and he had a big role in the diffusion of infographic in the newspapers redesign revolution working between Europe and Southamerica.
In Italy we know his job because he is one of the creator of the visual style of main journals: Il Corriere della Sera, Il Sole 24 Ore and La Stampa. He worked for many others international journals for example The indipendend and the argentinian Clarín where he experimented de plastic info graphics.
Through his Sunday column he offers a reflection about the reality by playing with words and visualizations: drawings, photographs, infographics, illustrations. His genius passes through irony and satire and he breaks boundaries by melting infographic with opinion, art and individual expression.
It could be possible read (in spanish) the book of his columns published in La Avanguardia here.
If you want to have a panoramic view of Jaime Serra his blog offers samples of his work. If you want to have a look through the infographics of La Avanguardia you could click here.
The Columns reading has been introduced by José Luis de Vicente, a spanish journalist and commissary of exhibitions of art and digital culture. He talked about the importance of visualization in decision making. He presented emblematic personage such as Florence Nightingale: she were a nurse and during the Crimean War she demonstrated by collecting data and displaying it, that the British hospital system had to be reorganize.

Lucia has a Master Degree in Communication Design at the Politecnico di Milano. She prepared her thesis about Daily life information and form design at DensityDesign.
She worked at the Communication Department at Isia Urbino during an year. Now she is based in Barcelona, where she works at Rocío Martinavarro Studio.
Some of her projects are in Behance Network.
posted by Giorgia Lupi
Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

DensityDesign in Bruxelles – when visualization meets other disciplines (and sets the fire on!)

We’re just back from a speech at the Human Cities Symposium, in Bruxelles.

Human Cities is a network of professionals dedicated to research, action and information on spatial, social and political innovation pertaining to public space.

We presented a paper, called Maps of Babel, within the methodological section, that focuses on the methods as well as the theoretical frameworks mobilized by researchers to observe, describe, understand, assess, theorize and/or spread interpretations and actions on the topic of “humancities”.

Maps of Babel is one of the experiments we’re conducting in the field of urban sensing and data visualization. Within this field, our ongoing applied research aims at designing a new method for interpreting, crossing, analyzing and visual representing digital traces, as well as User Generated content at the urban scale. The final goal is to return dynamic alternative polyphonic images of the city as it is used and perceived by its inhabitants.

You can find the preview of the Speech here.

The experiment has been carried within a multidisciplinary and extra-department team of collaborators (Paolo Patelli from Urban Planning Department of Milan Politecnico; Luca Simeone from Medea University, Malmoo; and Salvatore Iaconesi from La Sapienza, Roma).

As you can see from the speech preview, the experiment tried to understand patterns of how different groups live the city in terms of spatial distribution (correlation with specific places and areas), and temporal distribution (time of the day, days of the weeks) inquiring the contributions between people that post in different languages.

I (Giorgia Lupi) was speaking at the conference presenting the background, the methods and some first results.

As we see it, presenting our work in front of an urbanist and planning based audience, should have been useful to gain insights (and critics) on how to properly integrate those data with other quantitative and qualitative ones; or to discuss on the effective utility of this research in terms of decision making processes and planning at the urban scale.

Unfortunately, we were not able to do it. In fact, my intervention unleashed a hot debate on a completely different topic: the ethic issue of showing User Generated Content.

“data are private! you cannot use them in that way!”
“there must be an ethic debate around it”
“those data could be mis-used by the authority!”
“we felt very scared seeing your presentation / we were dots on the map! it’s scaring!
“it’s urban marketing, companies can use these data against our cities!”

In 2012 we didn’t expect such a reaction.We feel that everybody should know that what we everyday share on blogs and social networks is public, if not kept private on purpose.

As we see, it’s not by avoiding to visualize these kind of public data that prevents us from any mis-use by the authorities or the company; everybody already has access to these data and that’s because they’re public! Obviously the debate around what’s private and what is not is very slippery at the moment; we deeply believe though that people involved in urban planning and decision making should start taking into account that those data exist, that there’s a new layer of information that we cannot turn our heads away from.

Anyway a lot of positive comments have been collected within the debate (that I’m personally happy to have generated!).

Starting from our research, it has been enlightened the importance of the role of designer in helping people (planners and citizens) to understand: transforming those data into stories, and making those data collectively explorable; as well as the possibility to generate awareness on people just because we make what they share visible. Other interesting comments have been done on the possibility to make a step forward in thinking the concept of the actual public space.

I particularly appreciated the conclusions on the panel, held by Matej Nikšič, (Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia) which enlightened that the central question should be how those data can become really useful in making us better deal with our cities and not how we can save us “from the Man”.

posted by Paolo Ciuccarelli
Monday, March 12th, 2012

Visual explorations for (design) research

We are in Munich at IDEO to explore the (potential) role of Data and Information Visualization in different phases of the design process. I’m very excited about it, especially for one reason: this is an opportunity to go back to my first research domain, the one of design as a knowledge process. The circle is going to be closed, hopefully!

posted by Michele Mauri
Monday, March 5th, 2012

Visualizing controversies on climate change – final assignment results

For the final assignment of this year’s DesnityDesign Lab., our students produced some high-quality info-videos about climate change and related controversy.
Enjoy here, and let us know what do you think about it!

Deep Into

Beneath the Surface

Un-usual Story

Virtual Solution

Sinking Islands

Concrete Project

The Unswitched Project

Hiding Eat


Climate Changes. What about People?

Cruising The Web

posted by Azzurra Pini
Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Visualizing Controversies on Climate Change | Open Day 2012

The climate change phenomenon has long been a controversial subject in science, technology and society. Even though there is a large scientific and mediatic consensus on the global warming issue, we can’t ignore other equally important positions of dissent. The increasing availability of datasets and reports on global warming has contributed to the rising of public discussions and a growing desire for knowledge and involvement from individuals.
During this open day we are going to delve together into several controversies on climate change phenomenon through mappings, visual explorations of the web and narrative artifacts.

You’re all invited, come and share this day with us!

23rd February 2012, 10:00 AM
CT61 – Building N
Bovisa Campus
Politecnico di Milano
via Durando 10, 20158 Milan

posted by Giorgio Uboldi
Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Visual explorations

We are glad to announce“Visual explorations”, two courses of three and four weeks aimed at students, visual communication professionals, journalists, and any others interested in learning about and experimenting with visual tools and methodologies to help different users understand and make sense of data and information.

The quantity and the complexity of data and digital information produced from science, media, the world of economics, and individual activity on the Web has grown exponentially. However, amid a situation of abundance and richness, the opposite is also true, and the ability to extract value and enable the construction of meaning appears to be poor. People need and have the desire to access, understand, and use this huge quantity of information in an effective way, and explicitly need skills concerning both the construction of a visual representation of complex data, as the direct contact with the data: its extraction, manipulation, organization and communication.


The first course of “Visual Explorations” has the aim of providing students the skills to approach the visualization process critically and consciously, from the study of visual models to the design of cross-media applications.


The second course has the aim of developing the skill of (re)building a story; digging into and inquiring information from digital sources, such as on-line social networks; and visualizing the results. The two courses are linked by a common thread, a common approach to visualization as a cognitive tool, involved in the active construction of knowledge, triggering the engagement, making comprehension easier, and supporting users’ decisions.

For more informations visit the website: