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Uncharted Territory

自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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We live in an age of data visualization.

 
ポケモンGoについては例えば以下のNew Yorkerの記事のようにfad(一時的流行)としてすぐに廃れるものとして語られがちですね。

Out of nowhere, a huge fad sweeps the country. It dominates social media and leads to a blizzard of think pieces, which are followed almost immediately by a backlash, as critics warn of the fad’s baleful consequences. Eventually, people get bored and move on to something new. That could well be the story of Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality game that has everyone wandering the streets in search of Pikachus and Squirtles

ひねくれ者の私は7月号のScientific Americanの特集、ゲームは脳に良い、一時流行した「脳トレゲーム」よりも効果があると語っている記事を紹介しようと思っていました。

NEUROSCIENCE
Serious Brain Benefits from Computer Games
A preview by our editor in chief of the July 2016 issue of Scientific American

By Mariette DiChristina on July 1, 2016

Remember the congressional hearings some years ago on the negative effects of video games? To many parents, it made intuitive sense that zapping aliens and zombies probably was a complete waste of time in any case. I know I've sometimes chided my daughters about what they are missing “IRL” when they play games on their mobile phones while, for instance, simultaneously trying to attend to a conversation or follow the plotline of a movie.

Not so fast, say scientists, who have been studying what actually happens to our brain when we play action games. In this issue's cover story, “The Brain-Boosting Power of Video Games,” psychologists Daphne Bavelier and C. Shawn Green explain how fast-paced “shooter” games enhance certain cognitive functions, including bettering attention, reaction times and switching from one task to another. The work could lead to designs for games that could provide similar benefits without some of the disturbingly violent content of the action genre. Surprisingly, popular marketed “brain-training” games don't seem to evince the same kinds of benefits.


ところがスミソニアンのデータビジュアリゼーションの記事が面白かったのでそちらの方にひきつけたくなりました。データが大量に集められるようになり、その視覚化が一層重要になってきていることの始まりを19世紀を事例にして説明してくれるものです。

The Surprising History of the Infographic
Early iterations saved soldiers' lives, debunked myths about slavery and helped Americans settle the frontier


We live in an age of data visualization. Go to any news website and you’ll see graphics charting support for the presidential candidates; open your iPhone and the Health app will generate personalized graphs showing how active you’ve been this week, month or year. Sites publish charts showing how the climate is changing, how schools are segregating, how much housework mothers do versus fathers. And newspapers are increasingly finding that readers love “dataviz”: In 2013, the New York Times’ most-read story for the entire year was a visualization of regional accents across the United States. It makes sense. We live in an age of Big Data. If we’re going to understand our complex world, one powerful way is to graph it.

19世紀になってようやく天気、人口や経済統計などのデータが多く集まるようになってそれを分析していく必要性が出てきたそうです。

Still, data visualization was rare because data was rare. That began to change rapidly in the early 19th century, because countries began to collect—and publish—reams of information about their weather, economic activity and population. “For the first time, you could deal with important social issues with hard facts, if you could find a way to analyze it,” says Michael Friendly, a professor of psychology at York University who studies the history of data visualization. “The age of data really began.”

奴隷人口の多さを示すアメリカの奴隷地図や西部開拓の実現性を証明する天気統計などが実際の行動に役立ったことを説明してくれていますが、一番わかりやすかったのが看護師の元祖ともいうべきナイチンゲールの功績です。彼女は戦場で亡くなった兵士よりも不衛生な環境のために亡くなった兵士が多いことに気づき、英国女王や議会の説得のためにそのデータを視覚化したそうです。

During the Crimean War she got a chance to wield her data skills. While in the field, Nightingale became appalled at the squalid conditions of army hospitals and soldier barracks, which were mired with feces and vermin. She persuaded Queen Victoria to let her study the issue, and Nightingale teamed up with her friend William Farr, the country’s leading statistician, to analyze army mortality rates. They uncovered a stunning fact: Most of the soldiers in the Crimean War hadn’t died in combat. They’d died of “preventable diseases”—precisely the sort caused by terrible hygiene. Clean up the hygiene and you’d save lives.

Nightingale adroitly realized that tables of numbers and text would be too hard to parse. They needed, she said, a data visualization—“to affect thro’ the Eyes what we fail to convey to the public through their word-proof ears.” Her invention was the elegant “polar area chart,” a new variant of the pie chart: Each slice of the pie showed deaths for one month of the war, growing larger if the deaths increased, and color-coded to show the causes of death. Fans called it the “rose diagram,” because it looked like a flower.

The queen and Parliament could see at a glance the importance of hygiene; they quickly set up a sanitary commission to improve conditions, and death rates fell. Nightingale became one of the first people to successfully use data visualization for persuasion—to influence public policy.


いまでも新たな視覚化の方法はいろいろ出てきているようで、リベラルと保守の読む記事の違いがわかるWSJのサイトが紹介されていました。いや〜これは分断されたアメリカがよくわかります。同じトピックでもここまで記事の取り上げ方が違うものになるのかよくわかります。

This spring, the Wall Street Journal produced a fascinating data visualization titled “Blue Feed, Red Feed.” On the Journal’s website, “visual correspondent” Jon Keegan created an interactive page that shows what Facebook looks like for users who were “very liberal” or “very conservative.” Because Facebook’s newsfeed emphasizes stories friends are “liking,” people with lots of liberal friends tend to get shown lots of left-wing news, and vice versa. Keegan wanted to help readers see just how loud it was inside the echo chamber.

この記事の最後に今後の方向性に触れていました。ヴァーチャルリアルティを活用したかたちになるのではとみているようです。

The next step? Virtual reality. Alberto Cairo, a journalism professor at the University of Miami, imagines putting on a VR headset to read a report or watch TV, and watching visualizations swim around in front of him in 3-D. “How can you superimpose a data image over a real image?” he wonders. That’ll be the question for the William Playfairs of this century.

まあ、この記事ではこれしか触れていませんでしたが、このような新たな方向性の始まりとしてポケモンGoを捉えている記事は結構出ていますね。

Jack Karsten | July 22, 2016 7:30am
Why Pokémon Go’s technology is no fad


*********

Pokémon Go isn’t a fad. It’s a beginning.
Updated by Ezra Klein on July 12, 2016, 10:40 a.m. ET


地図データとユーザーの位置情報をうまく処理できなければポケモンGoは成立しないですから、画期的な部分は確かにあるのでしょう。新たな技術によって現実を知る切り口が変わっていく、それによって我々の行動も変わっていく、そんな可能性を秘めているとしたらワクワクします。
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