Viz Agencies: CLEVERFRANKE and Interactive Things

Data Stories


Saw the sovereign in. Let's get started so we have a special topic today. We decided to make even a two episode feature maybe even more episodes to come because actually this huge blind spot so whenever we review our trailer board with episode. We realized sometimes. Oh we've been so many but we never talked to somebody from field X. or from that area and it's been like this really with for years. Small to medium data visualization agencies. Which is insane because some of the best data is obviously comes from these types of companies and we talked to a lot of practitioners and researchers and whatnot but never really people. Running data visualization studios. Huge Blind. Spot happens but now we're catching up quick and we're inviting to even guests today and and we record another episode with two guests and this will be the next month so hopefully we're back to a good ratio of data agency folks and going and I'm personally super interested. I'VE KNOWN THE FOLKS. We'll talk to you for many many years. In fact I realized last year at encode conference that a lot of these agencies have been around for ten years longer and so it's really now fastening to hear of their long-term Perspective on how the field has evolved. How the field has changed if there is even a viable business and making high end. Crafted data visualization. Or if we will all be unemployed soon so curious to learn more about all this so as I said we have two guests the first one is Thomas. Clever I Thomas High Thomas Highmore. It's I echo. Thanks for joining us. And we have Benjamin Vita Benjamin Haven. Hi Maurice Ionescu great to have you on so Thomas. Maybe I could you briefly introduce yourself and your company and then Benjamin can take. Oh yeah absolutely so as you said. I'm Thomas Flavor or clever co-founder of Flavor Franca or clever Frankie. Most people call us these days. We're data design and Technology Company and we create anything from one of data visualizations to data driven products and tools. As we like to call it we have. We have our headquarters here in the Netherlands and we have another office in Chicago and Dubai. Yeah how many people are working for you right now around thirty two. I think if I'm correct thirty two now great Benjamin Harvard. You all right. I'm an interaction designer with sort of like a focus on information Shirley station and interface design from the beginning and then back in two thousand eight. I started writing a blog on data virtualization whereas publish my work and my research. It's also how we met I think. Also that's how I stumbled over an earlier and like a year later. I co founded interactive things which fairly similar to clever Frankie is a designer development studio with a focus on data driven products. We are a team of seventeen people. We're sort of like a slightly weird beast as we are five equal partners in the company. I think today's like my main focus is leading the company as the managing director. I have a few teaching assignments at universities on data visualization and and sort of organizing database. Sirak meet up here in sick right. So Benjamin there maybe just two people get a sense of okay. What type of product elected do or what? What's your approach is there? Maybe one quintessential project where you could say okay. This is really quintessential almost inactive things project where you could say. That's that's really good example of the type of work we do and we like to. Yeah that's you know like picking your favorite child right. So I think the project that sort of comes to mind is is actually two one two projects and that's education inequalities and education progress so these two websites that we have built for UNESCO and they are sister products in a way even though they're seven years apart so education inequalities already seven years old now and education progress was just released. The first was an exploratory tool our allies in disparities in quality of education and to second is Dan an explanatory publication summarizing the key facts and trends and so in a way they present to coins of the data. Visually say are two sides of the data. Visualization Coin Servic exploration for discovery and explanation for understanding and besides being interesting from data visualization perspective. I think the project also rank very high in our in our view because of the purpose they both advance to sustainable development goal for forward which I think is an important aspect so inclusive and equitable quality of Education. For All the second is the client. Unesco has been a long term and very very committed clients to the success of each of their project and then in terms of craft brew bows challenged in design. Antidevelopment went we work on these projects. And and typically we've seen iskoe. We are allowed to pursue a very iterative process instead of Servic fixed scope waterfall type of process. And I think sort of these Su- yes bex or for aspects purpose client crafting process are important to us and I think they are. Well reflected in those two projects. Great Tell us how about you is a similar example like Ben set. That's always very hard and I think if you look back over over the years that we've been running the business. There's always some quintessential project some lighthouse projects that I think really define you as a company to take a next step in where you are if I have to choose then. I think the the Mobility Index website that we created for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency of Planning is is one of my personal favorites really because it brings together a lot of lot of things dear to my heart. Dear to our companies hearts in the sense that it's it's a mix of experimental data viz with an important message behind it. The CMAP approached us because they had written a new mobility plan or a new urban planning plan so to speak for the city of Chicago which was pretty much. The first comprehensive urban planning plan since Daniel Burman Burnham which was about one hundred years ago and really outlined around economy mobility and liveability where the city should be heading and also the challenges that they face so mobility is a very important topic to the city of Chicago. Think Twenty five percent of the workforce is somehow tied to freight transportation. All those type of things and you know the the investment that needs to be done in the infrastructure there is about thirteen trillion dollars To really convey that message they asked us. Can you can concise. Can you digest plan of six hundred sixty pages into one interactive websites? And of course we said yes remembering that on the way there on the plane. I was reading through that plan and thinking. I'm not sure how we're going to do it. But it was really it was. It's a really nice project in in how we did a lot of editorial stuff on on understanding the plan and thinking how can we explain this plan to you know anybody down in the street but also to business policy makers journalists politicians and? There's a whole editorial sort of structure that you know. There's a bird's eye view over Chicago. And then as you dive into the topics you'd literally dive down into street level. There's different types of visualizations from charts to. We were using new technologies at the time. This twenty fourteen so yeah a lot of a lot of boxes that are ticked in that project and I think you know looking back. I just realized when I heard Ben talk that that was the first time that we set foot in Chicago and here. We are six seven years later right here. We have the office in Chicago so really. It's also the moment in time. I fell in love with that city

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