Archive for the ‘press’ Category

Big Bang Data at Somerset House in London, other exhibitions and interviews, and 5 million + cats!

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

I Know Where Your Cat Lives will be featured at the new exhibition, Big Bang Data, opening today at Somerset House in London. This is a traveling exhibition curated by Olga Subirós and José Luis de Vicente.

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Emails, selfies, shopping transactions, Google searches, dating profiles: every day we’re producing data in huge quantities. Our online activity, alongside that of businesses and governments, has led to a massive explosion – a ‘Big Bang’ – of data.

This radical shift in the volume, variety and speed of data being produced, combined with new techniques for storage, access, and analysis, is what defines the proliferation of data. It is radically reshaping our world and is set to revolutionise everything we do.

Data today gives us new ways of doing things: from scientific research to business strategy, politics to social interaction, our new data-driven society that has the potential to be more fair, stable, and efficient and yet it also created a tools for unprecedented mass surveillance and commodification. Data access and usage rights, along with the value they comprise, are at the heart of many concerns.

Big Bang Data explores the issues surrounding the datafication of our world through the work of artists, designers, journalists and visionaries. As the data explosion accelerates, we ask if we really understand our relationship with data, and explore the meaning and implications of data for our future.

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The exhibition, which runs Dec 3, 2015—Feb 28, 2016, includes over 50 works by artists, designers and innovators, comprising also a number of authors I’ve long admired like:
Brendan Dawes, Charles Joseph Minard, David McCandless, Ellie Harrison, Eric Fischer, Erica Scourti, Eva and Franco Mattes, Fight for the Future and Demand Progress, Florence Nightingale, Forensic Architecture, Future Cities Catapult, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Horst Ademeit, IF, Ingo Günther, Ingrid Burrington and Dan Williams, Interaction Research Studio, Goldsmiths, ITO World, Jaime Serra, James Bridle, John Snow, Jonathan Harris, Jonathan Minard, Julian Oliver, Julie Freeman, Kamel Makhloufi, Kiln, Laura Poitras, Lev Manovich and Moritz Stefaner, Lisa Jevbratt, Lise Autogena and Josh Portway, mySociety, Nesta, Nicholas Felton, Open Knowledge, OpenCorporates, Owen Mundy, Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico, Philipp Adrian, Rafael Lozano Hemmer, Ryoji Ikeda, Safecast, Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi, Tekja, TeleGeography, The Guardian, The Long Now Foundation, Thomson and Craighead, Timo Arnall, Umbrellium, William Elford, and Zach Blas

Some press is emerging already and I’ll add more images as the show opens:

Meanwhile time for a…

2015 Update on IKWYCL

Just over a year ago I launched I Know Where Your Cat Lives and it immediately went viral. I’m gracious for all the positive attention the project has received, and even more so for the reach it generated. In addition to a notable influence on research and dialogue around metadata security, the impact for individuals has been significant. Over 25% of owners of cat photos from the original sample have removed or increased privacy on their images and, even more noteworthy, nearly 60% of users have chosen to leave their photos public but have manually removed their location data from the images they shared, underlining the importance of this project to experts in the field, as well as everyone who uses social media.

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Since then I’ve found time to evaluate the project’s impact and begin to work on the conclusion. The site I shared was only a prototype, containing just one million images from the at least 15 million tagged with #cat on social media. Thanks to everyone at FSU’s Research Computing Center, and to support from Dr. Ostrander at the FSU Office of Research, I’ve made great progress in collecting and visualizing the millions of images that users have unknowingly uploaded with geolocation data. With this exhibition at Somerset House I’m uploading another large dataset to bring the total number of cats to just under 5.4 million!

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The final project will include expanding the data set to run in real time, as well as a mobile app called “Like Tinder for Cats,” and a book project which contextualizes and documents the research, the technology I developed, and most importantly, the impact of this ephemeral web-based work on industry, academia, and culture. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to work with my longtime colleague and amazing writer, Shana Berger, on the writing for the project, the first essay of which is currently under review.

Highlights from the last year

The IKWYCL prototype website has already received press in Motherboard/Vice Magazine, The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Atlantic, Wired Magazine, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. It has been featured in several international exhibitions including the Tempo Documentary Festival in Stockholm, Sweden, and numerous others like:

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I Know Where Your Cat Lives was nominated for a 2014 IDFA DocLab Award for Best Digital Storytelling at the International Documentary Film Association (IDFA) Festival. While ultimately the amazing Serial podcast took the prize, I was thrilled to be nominated among many great interactive documentary works including Miranda July’s conceptual app Somebody. Read more about IDFA DocLab in this review on We Make Money Not Art.

I was also excited to take part in the festival, not only as a presenter, but a mystery guest on the evening of my talk. Previously I had shared a selection of my Google searches with a team of experts who led a quiz style analysis of my search history, complete with an artist who did a rendering of what my family looked like according to my searches, and a chef who prepared food for the audience based on what my data revealed.

That same month found me giving a presentation on my work during the L2 Forum at the Morgan Library in New York City.

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While in NYC I also spoke at the LISA (Leaders in Software and Art) Salon at Postmasters Gallery

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In May 2015 it was featured among works by Trevor Paglen and Jason Salavon in the exhibition Art In The Age Of… Planetary Computation, at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam curated by Adam Kleinman. This was followed by an exhibit on interactive storytelling and the future of digital media at the Polish National Audiovisual Institute (NInA) in Warsaw curated by Anna Desponds.

Finally, I was very honored to be interviewed this summer for two separate European journalism projects around the cultural impact of technology.

Silvia Font published an extensive discussion which included many of my previous works for El Diario. The interview, Las fotos de tu gato en internet ponen en jaque tu privacidad (in Spanish), was part of a series that included interviews with Laura Poitras and Jacob Appelbaum.

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And, Charles-Henry Groult interviewed me for an ARTE web special about people shaping the culture and politics of the internet. The interview is in English but the interface elements are only in French and German

The dialog with these professionals was really gratifying. I’m so glad to have created something that is so thought-provoking, has proven impact, and yet is extremely fun to use. Thanks to everyone for the support :-)

Owen Mundy on Arte

“Owen Mundy just ruined the Internet” and the last days for the kickstarter

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

It has been an intense couple weeks since my last post. It turns out the internet loves cats even more than data, maps, and politics. So here is an update on many things “cat”…

Update on the project

I Know Where Your Cat Lives has received an overwhelmingly positive response from international press. Besides photos of cats on a world map, there are charts, an FAQ and (now) links to press on the website.

I have to admit I specifically picked cat photos as an accessible medium with which to explore the privacy issue. Still, I was astounded at just how much the internet responded. It’s not only cats, the issue was important for discussion, and I appreciated that as well as the thoughtful responses from everyone. Even the puns.


The privacy implications of cat pictures (4:24) MSNBC Interview with Ronan Farrow


Meet The Guy Who’s Putting Your Cat On The Map — To Prove A Point (2:12) Interview with National Public Radio’s All Things Considered

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“If you have posted a picture of your cat online, data analyst and artist Owen Mundy, and now, the rest of the world, knows where it lives. And, by that logic, he knows where you live, too. That should probably creep you out a little bit, and that’s really the point.”

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“Using cat pictures — that essential building block of the Internet — and a supercomputer, a Florida State University professor has built a site that shows the locations of the cats (at least at some point in time, given their nature) and, presumably, of their owners.”

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“Attention all 4.9 million users of the #Catstagram hashtag: You’re being watched.”

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“I recognize that a single serving site like this should be easy to quit, but I’ve been refreshing for hours and looking at all the different cats of the world. Near, far, wherever they are, these cats just go on and on and on.”

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“If I put up a “cat” photo on Instagram, I am not just sharing a cat photo on Instagram. I am offering up data about my, and my cat’s, location. “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” is, as a title, meant to be vaguely threatening.”

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“Owen Mundy just ruined the Internet. What were once innocuous photos of grumpy cats, tired cats, and fat cats, have now become adorable symbols of just how little privacy we have online.”

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Some charts

Because, charts.

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Traffic and hosting

So far 19,169 cats have been removed from the map due to privacy settings on their photographs being increased. I think this is awesome. And, it is also the ironic part of this project in that its success is measured in increased privacy. Meaning, the more people who are convinced to manage their data better, the less cats I will be able to represent on the map!

Truthfully speaking, I don’t think I have to worry about running out of cats, since this is a small portion of the total one million. And, I figured out a clever way to show this progress as it unfolds:

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The bandwidth and computing resources consumed by this project have been crazy. Even with a very fast Amazon EC2 server (high I/O computing-intensive 4XL server with 16 virtual cpus and 30 GB RAM) I watched the CPU hover at 100% for the entire day of The New York Times article. And this is after I put many hours indexing the database columns and making the scripts efficient in other ways. All told my bill for “going viral” was $1,019.73 (the month of July 2014).

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I used a few different logging tools to monitor the status of the server. Here are some basic stats (from awstats installed on the server) from the three weeks since I launched the project. This is for the requests and bandwidth on the EC2 server only. It does not include the actual cat photos, only the website itself (html, css, json, php, etc):

  • 353,734 unique visits
  • 14,141,644 pages (total clicks on the site)
  • 16,786,127 requests (additional files)
  • 8846.24 GB bandwidth (again, only text files)

I also used CloudFlare CDN (thanks for the tip Tim Schwartz!) to cache the site files and cat photos and serve the data from various locations around the world. This helped with the speed and to decrease my costs. Since all requests are routed through their DNS I believe their stats are likely the most reliable. According to CloudFlare, they served:

  • 20,631,228 total requests (3,089,020 of which were served through CloudFlare’s cache)
  • 10.2 TB bandwidth!! (437.3 GB of this data (site files and cat photos were served by CloudFlare)

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The Kickstarter has <3 days left!

And great news, thanks to 123 backers, including a big push from the awesome folks at Ghostery and Domi Ventures, the Kickstarter will be funded! There’s still time however, to help contribute to the number of years I can keep the site live while getting fun rewards from the project like I Know Where Your Cat Lives themed beer koozies and plush fish-shaped catnip-laced cat toys, as well as a limited edition signed I Know Where Your Cat Lives archival ink jet print. The kickstarter closes on Sat, Aug 9 2014 11:49 AM EDT.

Thanks again to everyone who supported the project. It’s been fun.


Washington Post review of “Grid, Sequence Me” show + documentation

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

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The Washington Post recently published a review recently about my and Joelle’s exhibition at Flashpoint Gallery in D.C. Check it out: Joelle Dietrick & Owen Mundy: Grid, Sequence Me, by Maura Judkis, Jan 11, 2013.

A few elements will be recognizable, such as the brutalist outline of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building, but many are stripped down to their most generic shapes, making rows of windows look like charts and bar graphs. The projections of some of those shapes echo and interplay with the forms of the Flashpoint gallery interior.

Dietrick and Mundy also scraped The Post’s listings of recent home sales, with architectural elements from some of those homes appearing before a dense thicket of live-streamed code. It’s a visual reminder of just how complicated the housing industry has become.

There’s a sense in the animation that the structures are tumbling away from you — just as homeownership has slipped out of the grip of many Americans. But the piece will elicit a different reaction here than in Florida, where the effects of the housing market crash have been far more pronounced. In Washington, we’ve mostly been insulated from it: Foreclosures are few, short sales are sparse. In the jumble of buildings and code, “Grid, Sequence Me,” may serve as a warning for those who haven’t experienced that sense of loss — but who indirectly, though policy work, may have influenced the systems that led to the crash.

I also finished a short piece with video from the installation and screen captures of the Processing visualization.

“The Influence of Non-places in the Concept of Latin America” by Eduardo Navas

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Curator and theorist, Eduardo Navas, has published an essay he wrote to accompany the Transitio_MX 2009 exhibition which included Anemophilous Formula for Computer Art by Joelle Dietrick and myself. The essay, “La Influencia de los No-Lugares en el concepto de America Latina.” (English “The Influence of Non-places in the Concept of Latin America”), was published in Spanish in Errata #3, Cultura digital y creación Dec 2010.

Here’s an excerpt of the essay in English. You can read more about (in English) on Eduardo’s blog or the full text is available in Spanish here.

Airplane travel and airports, which have been a key reference in the theory of non-places by both Augé and Ibelings finds direct commentary in Anemophilous Formula for Computer Art. This time-based work consists of a photograph of the Tallahassee Airport Check-in area, which hosts a wall sized reproduction of McClay Gardens Park. In front of the wallpaper image we find: on the left hand side a plant in a pot and on the right a portable fan, next to three airportline-dividing-poles which are connected with a dividing strip, and a dolly cart at the far end. The photograph of the actual lobby is projected on the wall along with a series of numbers, located at the bottom of the screen’s frame, complemented with an algorithmic simulation of Tree Pollen falling surrealistically, while a sound track of birds plays in a loop. In essence the airport check in lounge is turned into a staged moment where the reproduction of a natural environment is treated as a mere decoration.


Anemophilous Formula for Computer Art (2007) by Owen Mundy and Joelle Dietrick

In Anemophilous Formula for Computer Art the airport as a non-place is taken apart. The image is not only commenting on how parks are careful orchestrations of nature to fit human ideals, but also exposes how this aesthetic has entered the airport, a space of transition, in order to make people feel comfortable upon their arrival or departure. If one tries to believe that what one is looking at is real nature, or even a meta recording of nature, one only needs to notice that the pollen is falling just a bit too perfectly, executing an algorithm meant to appear naturally, magically. This orderliness, this pristine aesthetic, as in the other four selections has a direct link to the control that is inherent in supermodernism: “This boundless space is no dangerous wilderness or frightening emptiness, but rather a controlled vacuum, for if there is one thing that characterizes this age it is total control. The undefined space is not an emptiness but a safe container, a flexible shell.” Anemophilous Formula for Computer Art exposes the type of activity that more privileged migrants perform—those unlikely to work in maquiladoras or any other blue-collar job. Therefore, the wall projection is a commentary on the growing supermodern aesthetic of glocalization, and thus a critical commentary on a specific activity that is ingrained as much in Latin America as well as other regions. Viewers can project themselves into the computerized image, and feel comfortable in the virtual airport lobby; whether the viewer may potentially be in Japan or Mexico is irrelevant because the language of non-places has transcended space in this sense. And therefore makes the conceptualization of a constant migration an issue of class rather than identity.

—Eduardo Navas

Give Me My Data on Today Show’s Digital Life blog

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

How to back up your Facebook data
By Rosa Golijan

“There are plenty of reasons to back up your Facebook data — maybe you want to archive, reuse, or save it — and it turns out that there’s a simple way to do so. In fact, a few clicks and an app called Give Me My Data will do the trick in seconds.

Give Me My Data is a simple Facebook app with a single purpose — to help you back up your Facebook data so that you can do whatever you wish with it — and it does it well.

All you need to do is add the application, authorize it to access your information, and select how you want to receive your data — options include plain text, CSV, and XML formats — and … that’s it. Give Me My Data will proceed to spit out your details by category — personal information, status updates, links, pages, etc — and then you’re free to do whatever you will with it.

It’s worth noting that Facebook itself provides a way to download most of your data — the link to do so can be found in your account settings — but it doesn’t provide the various formatting options nor the varying breakdowns of data.”

Continue reading

Was weiß Facebook über mich?, in Bild

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

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The German newspaper, Bild published another article mentioning Give Me My Data today.

Was weiß Facebook über mich? or in English, Facebook knows what about me?

“About 500 million people worldwide use the social network Facebook to stay in touch with friends. In Germany, almost 9.8 million people are registered with Facebook. Many users are worried about their privacy. BILD.de answered the important questions…”

Recent and ongoing projects

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Howdy, it’s been awhile since I last shared news about recent and ongoing projects. Here goes.

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1. You Never Close Your Eyes Anymore

You Never Close Your Eyes Anymore is an installation that projects moving US Geological Survey (USGS) satellite images using handmade kinetic projection devices.

Each device hangs from the ceiling and uses electronic components to rotate strips of satellite images on transparency in front of an LED light source. They are constructed with found materials like camera lenses and consumer by-products and mimic remote sensing devices, bomb sights, and cameras in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

The installation includes altered images from various forms of lens-based analysis on a micro and macro scale; land masses, ice sheets, and images of retinas, printed on reflective silver film.

On display now until July 31 at AC Institute 547 W. 27th St, 5th Floor
Hours: Wed., Fri. & Sat.: 1-6pm, Thurs.: 1-8pm

New video by Asa Gauen and images
http://owenmundy.com/site/close_your_eyes

2. Images and video documentation of You Never Close Your Eyes Anymore will also be included in an upcoming Routledge publication and website:

Reframing Photography: Theory and Practice
by Rebekah Modrak, Bill Anthes
ISBN: 978-0-415-77920-3
Publish Date: November 16th 2010
http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415779203/

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3. Give Me My Data launch

Give Me My Data is a Facebook application designed to give users the ability to export their data out of Facebook for any purpose they see fit. This could include making artwork, archiving and deleting your account, or circumventing the interface Facebook provides. Data can be exported in CSV, XML, and other common formats. Give Me My Data is currently in public-beta.

Website
http://givememydata.com/

Facebook application
http://apps.facebook.com/give_me_my_data/

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4. Give Me My Data was also covered recently by the New York Times, BBC, TechCrunch, and others:

Facebook App Brings Back Data by Riva Richmond, New York Times, May 1, 2010
http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/01/facebook-app-brings-back-data/

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5. yourarthere.net launch

A major server and website upgrade to the yourarthere.net web-hosting co-op for artists and creatives. The new site allows members of the community to create profiles and post images, tags, biography, and events. In addition to the community aspect, yourarthere.net is still the best deal going for hosting your artist website.

Website
http://yourarthere.net

More images
http://owenmundy.com/site/design_yourarthere_net

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6. The Americans

The Americans is currently on view at the Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, FL. It features a new work with the same title.

More images
http://owenmundy.com/site/the-americans

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7. Your Art Here billboard hanger

I recently designed a new billboard hanging device and installed it in downtown Bloomington, IN with the help of my brother Reed, and wife Joelle Dietrick.

Stay tuned here for news about Your Art Here and the new billboard by Joelle Dietrick.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Your-Art-Here/112561318756736

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8. Finally, moving to Berlin for a year on a DAAD fellowship to work on some ongoing projects, including Automata.

More images
http://owenmundy.com/blog/2010/07/new-automata-sitemaps/

I’ll be giving a paper about Automata at the upcoming ISEA2010 conference in Ruhr, Germany.
http://www.isea2010ruhr.org/conference/tuesday-24-august-2010-dortmund

Many thanks to Chris Csikszentmihályi, Director of the Center for Future Civic Media http://civic.mit.edu/ , for inviting me to the MIT Media Lab last August to discuss the project with his Computing Culture Group: http://compcult.wordpress.com/

BBC News reports on Give Me My Data

Friday, June 25th, 2010

BBC News reports on Give Me My Data. Their website and video player is pretty clunky, and while they avoid crediting the developer, its still a nice plug to wake up to.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/8744514.stm

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Die peinlichsten Einträge bei Facebook, StudiVZ und Twitter

Monday, May 24th, 2010

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Give Me My Data mentioned in a Bild article:

Die peinlichsten Einträge bei Facebook, StudiVZ und Twitter The most embarrassing messages on Facebook, StudiVZ, and Twitter (English), May 22, 2010

Read the full translation

(translated from German) “Many users are unaware that their comments will be permanently stored in networks. For example Facebook can retrieve all stored Stautusmeldungen. The U.S. Professor Owen Mundy has a developed application, Facebook members ever entered all the data and displays the posts. Under “Select Data”, you select which data you want to see (for example, personal data, status messages). Here also dive old, long deleted on posts, which are provided with a time code. Facebook apparently never forgets.”

“Facebook’s Disconnect: Open Doors, Closed Exits” – TechCrunch

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

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More press for Give Me My Data, this time by Rohit Khare from TechCrunch (thanks for the note Evan.).

Give Me My Data has a more open-ended design that supports exploration and experimentation, in part because it sports an impressive array of formats to download your friend lists and other information for use in other projects such as visualization and charting. Owen Mundy at Florida State originally developed it for his own use, but “this week it kind of exploded because of the interface changes.” That could either be a sign of broader awareness of how much data users share with Facebook; or it could be the acute interest users have in putting profile data that Facebook “lost” right back onto Facebook (a feature that may be coming soon).”