In 2003 I was occupied with two kinds of work. One was work dealing with the design problems related to "data overload". I was thinking about intellignece analysts and studying how they solved problems, what tools they used, and how they managed to cope with a rapidly changing job. Since 911, the amounts of data aviailable to them had grown exponentially, but the tools for sifting and working with this data had barely changed. Working in the OSU Cognitive Systems Engineering Lab (CSEL) with Dr. David Woods and his students, I set out to design new tools for these analysts, new ways to collaborate, cope with big data, and make sense of the world. This work had me thinking about how people percieve patterns in data, and how groups of people can form structures for coping with overload that are emergent and very powerful. The wisdom of the crowd.
Simultaneously in 2003, war is clearly on it's way. In retrospect it seems clear that invading those countries without much of a plan for what comes after was probably not a great idea and has caused lots of problems for everyone involved. But what's hard to remember is that it's not just in retrospect. In 2003 there was this odd sense with most people I knew and respected, that this was probably a very bad idea, but at the same tim a forboding sense that it was almost certainly going to happen anyway. The media seemed afraid or unable to ask hard questions, instead beating the drum, pushing everyone towards Iraq. I was entranced by this slow motion car wreck that was clearly about to happen. I couldn't escape the urge to get it all on tape, record it for posterity. All of it. So I record cable news coverage of the push to war. 24 hours a day, starting at the state of the union, and stopping on the day the President declared MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Over 800 hours of video recorded from several different cable news channels. I build a video installation, 40 feet long, mapping news footage onto a timeline. A custom screen in the shape of the Dow Jones Industrial average for that same period of time. I wrote my own software to not only automate the recording process, but custom software to sift through the results, mark points of interest, and then finally to projection map the video database onto this custom projection surface. In 2003 there was no such thing as projection mapping software. I had to write my own.