A dance to the music of….data

Jack Blog

November 29th, 2013 By Caspar Mason

Raw, big, meta, Lt Cmdr – whatever data you’re into, the real value comes when we can turn it into information. So the trick is to know what to focus on and how to bring it to life. And if that can be done in a playful, interesting way…well, so much the better.

Using a mixture of insight, live experience and wit, ”Data Illustrator” Stefanie Posavec has done just that at Facebook’s Menlo Park campus as part of their Artist-in-Residence programme. 

Faced with the motherlode of big data from 1.19bn monthly users, she focused on a simple binary unit: couples.  Those who opted in had their data turned into diagrams (see below) that show interactions (or lack of) over time: from likes and comments of each other’s posts (shown by one partner in the other’s column), to joint posts, pictures and check-ins (both in the middle column).image

With a cheeky nod to Warhol’s Dance Diagrams, couple’s data was transformed into dance steps and laid out on the floor in communal areas in Facebook’s buildings.


(photos: Steve McInerny)

By turning data into a dance, it allows others to step (lightly) in their shoes: to recreate the ‘dance’ of a relationship over time; to see where one partner is doing most of the dancing; to see where both parties are dancing together.


It’s a visceral way of understanding the emotional world of couples you’ve probably never met. And if a key part of a good experience is communicating emotion (hint: it is), then this scores high.