Academic Partner Spotlight: SVA
On March 2 and 3, our Academic Partner SVA organized a data visualization workshop to look for and visualize patterns in data collected from YouTube videos of the present-day Syrian conflict. SVA and its students have participated in our Visualizing Marathons, so we were very excited to attend and support their continued efforts in data visualization.
The workshop brought together interaction design students and individuals from organizations such as Syria Conflict Monitor, The Carter Center, Syria Deeply, Caerus Associates and the UN to conceptualize, sketch, and create quick prototypes. Due to the sensitivity of the data, full projects cannot be made public, but aspects of note from the workshop are that:
- Projects were created with and alongside field experts who could add appropriate context, an idea illuminated by Jen Lowe in her short talk at this year’s Eyeo Festival
- As the data is from an active conflict zone, its sensitive nature required a heightened level of ethics and responsibility
- More dimensions were added to and extracted from the initial data set, an important effort for a situation where it has been difficult to collect and organize data
- Data visualization was used to build new models for conflict monitoring, negotiations and peace strategies
YouTube videos have played an influential role in the Syrian conflict, informing participants and audiences within Syria, the Middle East, and globally, and even playing a role in the trajectory of the conflict itself. They are one of the few sources of information on the conflict, and due the magnitude of videos — hundreds uploaded daily — working to accurately organize and visualize data from these videos holds enormous value in following this conflict and perhaps others to come.
A lot was accomplished over the weekend, and we congratulate all on a job well done! We hope to see the projects taken forward and look forward to supporting further explorations in data visualization from SVA and our other Academic Partners.