Turning Data Around – OCR Journal #002

“It’s a world in which we are being data-fied from a distance, our movements and conversations processed into product recommendations and sociology papers and watch lists.” Jer Thorp is uniquely qualified to characterize how data has permeated everyday life and his observations set the stage for OCR Journal #002. With their first edition the Brooklyn-based Office for Creative Research mused over how data was more of a verb than a noun; OCR’s sophomore edition teases out the ethical, sociopolitical, and quotidian implications of using data to ‘read’ culture. These ambitious and distinctly qualitative aspirations ripple through the journal’s 224 pages, and in aggregate its thirteen short texts read like a catalogue of the questions each of the designers is wrestling with in their practice. Yes, there are discussions about several of the studio’s projects but these glimpses of work-in-progress feel more like a film director’s DVD commentary than navel gazing process evangelism. Genevive Hoffman’s “The Calls Left Unanswered” chronicles some of the thinking behind the forthcoming visualization Flint is a Place, and beyond mounting a pointed critique of crime visualization she also ruminates on the sociopolitics of underserviced cities and citizen initiated responses to those circumstances. This is where Journal #002 shines – in grounding data through lived experience.

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