The past few years we’ve seen a surge on data visualization, from the proceedings of Edward Tufte to the masterful curation by the likes of Manuel Lima, blogs like Infoesthetics or tools like ManyEyes.

What was once an beautifying artifact to data crunchers has now gone mainstream, popularized by infographics on high traffics websites (Mashable and Jess3 you are to blame), a deluge of copy+paste graphics for the social age.

What’s perhaps more subtle but rather interesting, is the extension of this subset of visual narrative to the physical world, taking data visualization to more concrete forms of media, beyond the flat representation of digital images.

From the groundbreaking piece by Aaron Koblin for Radiohead, to the more recent work by Dentsu+Berg with iPad light painting, we witness the rise of ubiquitous infographics, were real surfaces become both data sets and data surfaces.

It’s time to acknowledge a future vision less screen-centric and more projection-centric (Microsoft shows a glimpse of it here), were each surface can both display data sources and act as data source.

If you find these examples still too digital, there’s a couple of more concrete ones:

The Handmade visualization toolkit by Jose Duarte

Handmade visualization toolkit All rights reserved by jose.duarte

Keyboard Frequency Sculpture by Mike Knuepfler

3-way street visualization

(though just a study, just think of the interaction with Google Car)

A real world pie-chart stencil/maker by the new media artist Golan Levin

Real Ideal for Intel Labs

The Watermarks Project

via Osocio

If our allure with infographics extends to the physical world, brands and organizations creating concrete forms of data viz (or even augmented visualization) can easily explore our current fascination. One warning though: don’t mistake pretty graphics with lack of clarity and reasoning when interpreting data.

Cross-posted at The Trendwatch

For those living under a rock, the movie adaptation of one of the most famous comic characters is almost here: Green Lantern.

The trailer above should be enough to seduce fans, but why stop there? And instead of the regular blockbuster campaign why not appeal to the geeky teenager and entice the astrophysicist within? That’s exactly what the agency Hide&Seek, Warner Bros. and Oxford University did, “bringing hardcore astrophysics and superhero movie fans together”.

At StudyTheSkyes.com, fans and aspiring astrophysicists can be explorers of The Zooniverse, a science project that allows internet users analyse photographic data generated by some of the world’s largest telescopes, and pass their findings for the research teams. Os as some say in marketing lingo, crowdsourcing. But in a geeky-milky way 🙂

So how does this relates to the character Green Lantern? Well, because the task at hand (tutorial above) would be looking for ‘bubbles’ produced by the formation of stars, that show up as … Green Rings.

Yeah, i know it’s geeky, but also a refreshing approach to movie campaigns.