If Everything is a Network, Nothing is a Network

New article I wrote towards the Responsible Data Forum on Visualization for Tactical Tech’s Decoding Data Guide and their Visualizing Advocacy blog:

Networks are not evil, they’re just largely misunderstood.

We experience life as a narrative, not as a map and certainly not as networks.

“The iconic image of scruffy detectives in smoky rooms connecting the dots between notes and blurry photographs pinned on a cork board has been infinitely extended to such a degree that it is now the cork board itself that does the pinning and connecting.”


Read it at Visualizing Advocacy


Watch the talk I gave at Re:publica 2016:


Class Plan: Design and Technology 101 / Learning to Teach for SFPC.io

I was invited by my friends at the School For Poetic Computation (SFPC) to share some teaching tips with fellow design and technology teachers following their Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn conference from last week. It is based on my Digital Platforms class for 2nd year students at Shenkar College‘s Visual Communication program (and previously at Parsons and Bezalel) I usually prepare the class in advance with a blogpost so here goes:


  • Traditional phones ceremony
  • Smiles
  • How are you doing?
  • Our plan for today

Continue reading Class Plan: Design and Technology 101 / Learning to Teach for SFPC.io

3 talks at SFPC (NY), MassArt and The MIT Media Lab (Boston)

I’ll be giving 3 talks this week on my short visit to New York and Boston. Tweet me if you might be around and would like to make it:

AdNauseam and Obfuscation @ SFPC

Monday, April 20th 3pm.
School For Poetic Computation – 155 Rivington St., Floor 4, New York, NY 10002

As online advertising is becoming more automatic, universal and unsanctioned, AdNauseam works to complete the cycle by automating all ad-clicks universally and blindly on behalf of the target audience. Working in coordination with your ad blocker, AdNauseam quietly clicks every blocked ad, registering a visit on the ad networks databases. As the data gathered shows an omnivorous click-stream, user profiling, targeting and surveillance becomes futile.

AdNauseam.io is a browser extension designed to obfuscate browsing data and protect users from surveillance and tracking by advertising networks. Simultaneously, AdNauseam serves as a means of amplifying users’ discontent with advertising networks that disregard privacy and facilitate bulk surveillance agendas. The talk covers both the background to the project and reviews various practices of data obfuscation.

Disinformation Visualization – How to lie with Dataviz @ MassArt

Wednesday, April 22 6pm.
MassArt, Kennedy Building, Room 406 – 621 Huntington Avenue Boston, MA

Designers, statisticians, journalists, researchers and technologists often apply visualization techniques in an attempt to get the big picture out of large quantities of data. In this rush towards informational imagery both creators and viewers are often taken by the lure of what Edward Tufte defines as “beautiful evidence”. But is information visualization indeed just another type of evidence, or is it a form of visual argument? This work was also published as an essay on Visualizing Advocacy.

How Interfaces Demand Obedience @ MIT MediaLab

Thursday, April 23 12pm1:30pm.

MIT Center for Civic Media – MIT Media Lab, 3rd floor – 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA

The internet, once associated with openness and decentralization, is increasingly understood in terms of the control exerted by government agencies (like the NSA) and advertising (targeted ads). What is less commonly discussed is how this subliminal control is embedded in interface design. In this talk Mushon Zer-Aviv argues that web interfaces demand our silent obedience with every page load and he tries to offer tactics and strategies for challenging the politics of the interface.

We follow the money, this is where we got so far…

The 2010 Carmel heights fires (Wikipedia)
The 2010 Carmel heights fires (Wikipedia)

Next week I will attend the Transparency and Accountability Initiative‘s Follow The Money workshop in Berlin. Towards this event they invited me to share our story following the money in Israel with the larger Follow The Money and Open Spending community, in English. The post chronicles our story from the fires of the Carmel Heights through the fiery debates in the Knesset’s Finance Committee to our latest hot release of oBudget.org. This is just the beginning of story, but I hope you find it interesting and relevant nevertheless.

Beautiful Evidence, Pretty Lies / Art Review

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 5.29.03 PM

Art Review’s wonderful Hettie Judah interviewed me and some of my dear colleagues for a piece about data, its visualization and their discontents. The article refers to my previous writing about Disinformation Visualization. It was just published in Art Review’s December 2014 issue:

As surveillance culture and the mass gathering of data have grown, so too has the culture of data communication. All the information swept up in the efficient, automated gluttony of the information-technology data grab needs to justify its rude acquisition – with every movement, transaction or conversation becoming potential fodder in the scramble to find meaning in the pattern of human behaviour, the less sensitive fruits of ‘big data’ are released to the public, making humanity en masse not simply the subjects of the data gathering but, increasingly, the enthusiastic consumers of it too. Given that little of the world’s population is equipped with advanced skills in statistical analysis, or even nimble numeracy, increasingly the way we consume the data made available to us is in the form of diagrams.

Continue reading at Art Review’s website

Launched: oBudget.org

We’ve just launched oBudget.org — The Budget Key (מפתח התקציב) an Israeli budget transparency site exposing, comparing and visualizing the way the budget changes and extending civil society’s ability to follow the money.

obudget.org homepage

oBudget.org budget item page

This is one of the Public Knowledge Workshop’s main initiatives. It was led by Adam Kariv (who developed it) and by myself (I designed it) with the help of a big group of volunteers. (exciting stuff)

When OPEN DATA Goes Wrong

Talk at the Open Knowledge Festival 2014. July 16th at Kulturbrauerei in Berlin. Attribution: Gregor Fischer, www.gfischer-photography.com/ 16.07.2014
Talk at the Open Knowledge Festival 2014. July 16th at Kulturbrauerei in Berlin.
Attribution: Gregor Fischer, www.gfischer-photography.com/ 16.07.2014

Slides, Interview and Stickers from The Open Knowledge Festival in Berlin #okfest14

In July 16th I participated in the Can Open Data Go Wrong session at the Open Knowledge Festival in Berlin, hosted by my friends from the Engine Room. I was one of four speakers sharing horror stories of big data and big hopes going not quite according to plans. I talked about our (Hasadna) experiences and challenges working on budget transparency projects in Israel. Towards the end I share one of the insights from my Disinformation Visualization essay calling for treating data visualization (And data in general) less as evidence and more as an integral part of the discourse. Some participants requested that I share my slides which I am happy to do here. To get some more context you can refer to the session notes recorded during the session.

Tin Geber and myself were also interviewed for the Open Knowledge Podcast where we discuss the perils of uncritical open data. Some highlights:

Interviewer: What do you think of the statement… “you open it first and then you figure out all the rest of the stuff afterwards”?
Tin: I think this statement gets people killed.

Tin Geber and myself, interviewing for Alex Fink who also took this picture
Tin Geber and myself, interviewing for Alex Fink who also took this picture

Finally, we made some stickers for the event which found their way to quite a few laptop covers. We dubbed them: “I [ambivalence] DATA”. If you want any I have extras. :)

I [ambivalence] DATA