The Web’s Secret Stories: How Do You Feel?

Jonathan Harris creates online art that teaches us about the soul of the Internet, and hence the souls of nations and individuals. What are we feeling? What are we looking for? Jonathan’s art is both insightful and elegant, and in my opinion an excellent combination of art and technology.

I highly recommend visiting his website, which is packed full of incredible projects. Click here to visit his website.


Information is Beautiful

This is an image taken from the website Information is Beautiful, a stunning website full of fantastic visualisations of the statistics of the world we live in. If you hear the word ‘statistics’ and completely switch off, I can assure you that that won’t be the case with this website. I’ll let David describe it in his own words, which are from his website:

‘I’m David McCandless, a London-based author, writer and designer. I’ve written for The Guardian, Wired and others. I’m into anything strange and interesting. These days I’m an independent data journalist and information designer. A passion of mine is visualizing information – facts, data, ideas, subjects, issues, statistics, questions – all with the minimum of words. I’m interested in how designed information can help us understand the world, cut through BS and reveal the hidden connections, patterns and stories underneath. Or, failing that, it can just look cool!’

And his visualisations certainly do look very cool indeed. His website is well worth a look, both for its informative nature and striking designs. He even has a book published called Information is Beautiful which is certainly worth getting out of the library, but really it’s the kind of book you’d like to have in your collection. It has certainly been an inspiration to me.

The Web as Random Acts of Kindness

Social theorist Jonathan Zittrain argues why he feels that the world is becoming a more friendly and sociable place via the Internet. The Internet, he suggests, is made up of millions of disinterested acts of kindness, curiosity and trust. In the case of Virtually Nao, I am completely inclined to agree, since without the help of previously unknown volunteers the project would not have been possible. It’s certainly a view of the Internet and technology that is full of optimism.

Latest News

Below is the progress of our attempt to digitally circumnavigate the globe, following the path originally taken by the Nao Victoria between 1519 and 1522.

Virtually Nao has successfully digitally circumnavigated the world!

The journey took a total of 9.353 seconds to travel by Internet.
The project took 74 days to acquire the data from volunteers across the globe. That’s 6 393 600 seconds.
The project had help from 12 volunteers.
The volunteers were from 10 different locations, 7 different countries and 5 different continents.
The flow of Internet data crossed all of the continents except for Antarctica. It travelled through 21 different countries, stopping in 35 different locations, often revisiting the same location more than once.

Thank you to all of the volunteers who made this project possible.

To view an interactive map of the flow of Internet data, click here.
To see the ‘crew’ behind the Virtually Nao project, click here.

Virtually Nao: Our Route So Far

Below you can see an interactive map of our progress. This map shows the flow of Internet data between the locations that the Nao Victoria originally laid anchor at approximately 486 years ago. We’ll be updating this as Virtually Nao makes its way around the globe on our digital expedition, so please keep checking in.

Anchors represent the locations from the original route of the Nao Victoria. Pins represent the deviations of Internet data. Click on the lines to see how far and how fast the data has travelled.

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The Faces Behind Virtually Nao

Here are the faces behind the digital facade that is Virtually Nao

Rosamund Garrett, artist (website author)
Edinburgh/Kent, UK

Virtually Nao is my final year degree show project. I’m currently studying for a five year undergraduate MA in Fine Art at the University of Edinburgh. Half of my degree is in history of art, where I specialised in sixteenth century tapestry at the university. The rest of my time I spend making contemporary art at Edinburgh College of Art, working at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh, and undertaking research for the Turner Contemporary in Margate.

The idea for Virtually Nao evolved out of an existing project and I would also say through the very nature of my degree. I must frequently switch my mind between history and forward thinking contemporary art, and as such it is no surprise that this has influenced my work. But as is the nature of art the idea first occurred rather unglamorously whilst I was eating a bowl of noodles with Jon in the Glasgow Wagamama. With Jon’s technical backup I realised that my ideas were not impossible, and quickly became so enthusiastic that I drew everything all over the Wagamama paper place matt.

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Can Art Change The World?

Maybe… One image at a time, but small things can make a big difference. My favourite kind of art is the kind that causes you to make connections, whether that is a connection to the world around you, to another person, to an idea or ideal or simply to your self. Making small connections can really make big changes. In fact I think I must be so keen on this because I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before.

Anyway, this video is from one of my favourite websites… no, not YouTube (although that is pretty good too), but TED. If you haven’t heard of TED (Technology, Education, Design) then I absolutely insist that you go to this website immediately. TED’s slogan is ‘Ideas Worth Spreading: Riveting Talks By Remarkable People, Free To The World’. The talks aren’t usually longer than 20 minutes, they are on every subject imaginable (from beat boxing to neuroscience, happiness to climate change), they are easy to follow and some of the talks are life changing. Really, it is that good.

This particular video shows a French artist that I really admire known as JR, who undertakes global projects that really get involved with the local communities. All of his projects are remarkable, but it’s projects such as ‘Face to Face’ that really might change the world. I’m interested to know what you think.