Abstract
This project will explore how novel data visualization techniques can be used to reveal the patterns of interaction between British Library (BL) content and its community. By cross-referencing British Library Book Ordering Data with Anonymised Reader Records the research will uncover the habits, preferences and practices of British Library users. This information will be shared with the cultural sector, analysts, researchers, academics and the broader community through an exhibition of data visualisations.


A selection of existing statistical parametrics collected by the British Library, such as demographic data, information on content classification and popularity, frequency of selection, time, and date choices etc. will be combined to form multidimensional data relationships that map the shape of public engagement with BL. These data correlations will be used to create 3D printed data objects - a novel form of data visualisation that captures complex digital data in a physical form using the latest digital 3D printing technologies.
For many parts of the community scientific graphics and information data sets remain abstract and unintelligible (Tufte 1993). Research has shown that information visualised in the form of a data object can help to bring insight and understanding to complex information when shared with audiences (Gwilt 2013). This research investigates how we can begin to bring better understanding and increased accessibility to archived data through the creation of material/physical objects as communication tools. The project seeks to reveal how we can establish a different way of reading digital data, through spatial, temporal and material variations that sit outside of the usual computer monitor-based digital environment and which can be tailored for the needs of specific user groups and communities.
Individual instances from the combined BL data sets will be used to produce uniquely formed 3D printed objects. The objects created during the project will form the basis of a public exhibition that invites people to think about how the British Library is used, and to consider their own interactions with the Library.
Gwilt, I. (2013) Data-Objects: sharing the attributes and properties of digital and material culture to creatively interpret complex information, in The Re-materialisation of the Art Object (Harrison D., Ed), IGI Global, US, pp 14-26.

Tufte, E. (1993) The Visual display of quantitative information, Graphics Press, Connecticut
Assessment Criteria

The research question you are trying to answer:
The research will address the following questions:
1. Can the creation of physical artefacts (data-objects), based on data extracted from BL data sets provide insight into how the community engages with the library?
2. Can the attributes and affordances of digital and material cultures combined though the use of 3D printing, provide innovative solutions to assist in the understanding and use of complex data?
3. What influences do choice of material, visual metaphor and design strategy have on the perceptions of the accuracy, validity, and complexity for data when presented in this way?

Please explain the extent and way your idea will showcase British Library digital content
BL databases will be heavily utilised in the undertaking of this research, especially in the statistical analysis that will inform the production of the 3D printed data visualisations. The outcomes from these analytical, technologically enabled translations and making processes will be shared with the BL community via the project website and the British Library Digital Scholarship blog. The key outputs from this research, while being digitally facilitated, will be manifest through the production of physical, 3D printed data-objects, which will be publically exhibited, archived, and reviewed through formal academic distribution channels.
Working with the British Library Book Ordering Data and Anonymised Reader Records we will use a data mining process to inform the design of a series of data-visualisation objects to:
• Reveal key trends in community engagement with the BL
• Identify patterns of use and habits between specific demographics, content types and content themes
• Provide a tool for investigating the relationship between community preferences and BL content provision
• Explore the role of innovative information visualisation approaches in the context of large cultural datasets through the creation of data objects and 3D printing technologies
• Share the findings with a public audience through a public exhibition at the British Library venue and website
• Encourage more engagement with BL content for a range of academic disciplines and the broader community
• Communicate the findings to an academic/research audience through the production of conference papers, presentations, journal articles etc.
• Build partnerships and establish a framework for future collaborative projects
Please detail the approach(es) / method(s) you are going to use to implement your idea, detailing clearly the research methods
The project will use data visualisation design together with statistical analysis tools to explore and capture user preferences and patterns of interaction with BL content. 3d modeling and printing technologies will be used to create unique physical representations of the data, informed by thematic analysis methods.

The findings will be shared with the BL community to allow for feedback on the project and to inform further development.

Please provide evidence how you / your team have the skills, knowledge and expertise to successfully carry out the project by working with the British Library
The project will utilise the skills of a multidisciplinary team of designers, data-managers and technologists in the research center at Sheffield Hallam University inconjunction with members of the British Library Digital Scholarship BL Labs team,
Key project members and their specific roles are listed as followed:
Professor Ian Gwilt (design and visual communication) project lead - project management, implementation, and exhibition design.

https://www.shu.ac.uk/research/c3ri/people/prof-ian-gwilt

Professor Daniela Petrelli (HCI Interaction Design) - Data analysis and configuration, interaction design and software support.

https://www.shu.ac.uk/research/c3ri/people/professor-daniela-petrelli
Nick Dulake (design technology researched and maker) – 3D printing support and 3d model design concepts.

https://www.shu.ac.uk/research/c3ri/people/nick-dulake
Patrick McEntaggart (Senior Lecturer in Interactive Design) - Data visualisation design and configuration tools.

https://www.shu.ac.uk/research/c3ri/profiles/Paddy-McEntaggart
We would also like to work closely with Ben O'Steen the Technical Lead on the team at the BL Labs to understand what data is available and resolve how the different data sets can be configured.
Please provide evidence of how you think your idea is achievable on a technical, curatorial and legal basis
Technical

Working with members of the Digital Scholarship group at the British Library will allow the research to investigate how the tagging, classification and filtering of data can be explored and translated through the creation of data driven artifacts. We will apply common statistical and clustering techniques on the highly multidimensional data, exploring and exposing the trends held within. British Library Labs have performed analysis at this scale before and use standard distributed computing tools for processing, such as Hadoop, and Apache Pig. The archive will be interpreted using a number of contemporary fabrication technologies such as 3D printing, Fuse Deposition Material (FDM), Laser cutters and CNC machines for metal and other materials. These activities will lead to the creation of a number of data-object prototypes that will be used in evaluation events with the public.
Furthermore the research will greatly benefit from access to a large and important digital cultural archive, the technical and disciplinary knowledge of colleagues at the British Library, and the academic research experience, design expertise and creative workshop facilities at the Art and Design Research Centre in Sheffield Hallam University. This partnership will enable an authoritative investigation into new and inventive ways to navigate, interpret and display digitised data, and will facilitate interdisciplinary insights and opportunities for interpretation and knowledge exchange across academic disciplines and between non-academic sectors and communities.
Curatorial

From a theoretical perspective, how we begin to translate complex digital data into a physical artifact speaks to the current trend for strategies that bring digital computing into the everyday. Terms such as Ubiquitous Computing, Smart Environments and the Internet of Things (IOT) are all ideas that are growing in interest to other research sectors such as the Technical Strategy Board (TSB), which produced a major report on this phenomenon (Internet of Things Special Interest Group 2013). The data-object concept speaks to this desire for the creation of hybrid digital/material constructs that are able to draw on the attributes of digital computing and the properties/value we ascribe to material form. This notion of ‘digital materiality’ challenges the value systems that we typically assign (discretely) to artifacts associated to digital and material cultures. The data-object also represents a move away from the disembodied notions of computer generated Virtual Reality, towards a shared visual language and way of interacting in an increasingly conflated digital/physical space. The project recognises the cultural value of material forms and the potential for located/embodied experience of digital media, which are concepts relevant to the 21st notion of books and the library.

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Legal

The research is based on existing data sets collected by the BL so there should be no copyright issues. Demographic data is completely anonymised so there should be no ethical issues to address. The project is proposed by a university research centre and there are no expected commercialisation issues or extraordinary ownership or publication requirements expected. All project parties will be recognised in publicity and publications.
Please provide a brief plan of how you will implement your idea by working with the Labs team
June 2016

Project planning meeting at the BL: All members

Feasibility of use and technical analysis of source data undertaken. Selection of datasets: All project members: led by Ben O’Steen

Statistical analysis software development: Ben O’Steen, Daniela Petrelli, Paddy McEntaggart, Ian Gwilt
July 2016

Statistical analysis software continued development: Ben O’Steen, Daniela Petrelli, Paddy McEntaggart

Data visualisation tests undertaken: Paddy McEntaggart, Nick Dulake, Ben O’Steen
August 2016

Statistical analysis software resolved: Ben O’Steen, Daniela Petrelli, Paddy McEntaggart

Data visualisation tests continued: Daniela Petrelli, Paddy McEntaggart, Nick Dulake

3d printing experiments begun: Nick Dulake, Ben O’Steen, Ian Gwilt
September 2016

3d Printing: Nick Dulake, Ben O’Steen.
October 2016

Project exhibition design and production: Paddy McEntaggart, Nick Dulake, Ian Gwilt, Daniela Petrelli.

Supporting examples - images and information on data-object projects


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Touching Air: Stefanie Posavec
http://www.stefanieposavec.co.uk/data/#/airtransformed/

Touching Air comprises three necklaces made of perspex segments of different textures. Each necklace represents a week’s worth of data from sensors measuring large particulate (PM10) levels. Since particulate matter damages the heart and lungs, we felt a neckpiece was an appropriate way of communicating this data.
The segments range in size from small to large and in texture from completely smooth to spiky and sharp to touch; the larger and spikier the segment, the more particulates in the air at that time. By running their fingers over each necklace, the wearer can literally feel how the air quality in Sheffield went up and down over the course of each week. Dangerous particulate levels have the potential to hurt/prick the finger of the wearer.

DataBronze: Kotura Sano & Ian Gwilt
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https://www.behance.net/gallery/10548865/DataBronze-2013-koutaro-Sano-Ian-Gwilt
DataBronze adds to the research on data-objects and looks specifically at what influence choice of materials has on the way we read and respond to information encapsulated in a physical artifact. In this case the object is made of cast bronze. The actual piece was crafted by the Japanese Ceramicist/sculptor Koutaro Sano who worked with me during a visit to Sheffield in 2013.


BRAND TOYS www.brandtoys.com/

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Brand Toys is a brand visualisation tool. It seeks to bring alive the characteristics of brands in a playful, human, and original way using data para-metrics to shape the features of the toy.

Measuring Cup: Mitchel Whitelaw
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http://mtchl.net/measuring-cup/
This form presents 150 years of Sydney temperature data in a little cup-shaped object about 6cm high. The data comes from the UK Met Office’s HadCRUT subset, released earlier this year; for Sydney it contains monthly average temperatures back to 1859.
The structure of the form is pretty straightforward. Each horizontal layer of the form is a single year of data; these layers are stacked chronologically bottom to top – so 1859 is at the base, 2009 at the lip. The profile of each layer is basically a radial line graph of the monthly data for that year. Months are ordered clockwise around a full circle, and the data controls the radius of the form at each month. The result is a sort of squashed ovoid, with a flat spot where winter is (July, here in the South).
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