In the fall of 2010, my friend Mike Young invited me to come to the New York Times R&D Lab, to discuss a new visualization project that was just starting to get off of the ground. That project became Cascade, and that meeting led to my two-and-a-half year stay at the R&D Lab, as the first Data Artist in Residence. Yesterday, my residency at the New York Times came to an end. This morning, I’m thrilled to announce the official launch of my new company: The Office For Creative Research.
My 28 months (the residency was originally set for four months) at the New York Times was transformational in many, many ways. Cascade, which I initiated with Mark Hansen as a conceptual prototype, became a full-fledged project supported by an entire team of designers, developers and engineers. Along with Jake Porway, Brian House, and Matt Boggie, we built OpenPaths, which continues to be an exciting model for personal engagement with data. Mark and I, working with Alexis Lloyd, also made Memory Maps, a prototype for archive exploration, in which news stories are interwoven with the personal history of the user.
These successful projects were of course accompanied by unfinished sketches, necessary failures and inevitable dead ends. I built a visualization tool for household power usage that went nowhere, a few failed archive exploration tools, and one particularly bad interface for visualizing personal connections on Twitter. The R&D group, conceived and led by Michael Zimbalist, is very much a place that encourages real exploration – and the inevitable failures that result. This freedom to explore and to push boundaries is what has made, and will continue to make NYTLabs fertile ground for ideas and innovation.
Which brings me back to The Office for Creative Research, the new company I’ve founded with Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin. OCR is a multidisciplinary research group focusing on new modes of engagement with data. We’re looking to partner with companies, institutions, scientists, museums – any individual, group or organization who is facing novel problems with data. A browse through our collective portfolio will show our range of approach, from visualization to algorithm design to performance and installation. Our unique range of skills, drawing from both the arts and sciences, give us the ability to tackle almost any problem, from the laboratory to the gallery, and everywhere in between.
We’ve outlined the mission of The Office for Creative research in this memorandum, released today, and you can see more of our work on OCR’s freshly-launched website. While we already have a set of fascinating projects on the go for 2013, we are looking for innovative new partners. Please get in touch if you’d like to explore the possibility of working with OCR. Also, we’ll be looking to hire talented people in the spring, so if you’d like to work in New York City, exploring the borders between data, technology & culture, send us a message.
It’s going to be an exciting year. We’ll be running a series of workshops at OCR starting next month, and we’ll be publishing a journal at the end of 2013 documenting the progress of our research. For regular news and data-related commentary, you can follow The Office For Creative Research on Twitter – @The_O_C_R.
I’d be remiss not to end this post with a thank-you to the many talented people at the New York Times who made my time there so tremendously enjoyable. It’s a world-class organization, filled with world-class human beings, and I’ll always be grateful for having had the chance to spend time there.
Happy New Year,