Processing Language’s Data Visualizations Getting Cooler Every Day | TechWell

Processing Language’s Data Visualizations Getting Cooler Every Day

It always surprises me when news of a social media platform's introducing a change in its privacy or advertising policies not only makes headlines but even dominates them. No one should be surprised when businesses decide to be, well, businesses.

A perfect example is this week’s announcement about Foursquare Ads, the company’s new feature that allows all small businesses the same advertising freedoms the big boys have had all along. Every article I’ve read about the news elicited the same “So what?” reaction from me, and I would assume from others as well.

The most shocking part about the length of the legs this relative nonstory grew is that at nearly the same time Foursquare issued a much, much cooler release that got nowhere near the same amount of press. They announced light-speed data visualizations of Foursquare's millions of check-ins that occur every single day at six of the largest cities in the world.

While an entire year in each city goes by in only thirty seconds, Foursquare brilliantly chose to loop each city’s video. Before you know it, you’ve been staring at your screen for nearly an hour. They’re absolutely stunning.

How did they do it? Somehow, it doesn’t seem that difficult. Fast Company reports that Foursquare designer Matt Healy and data scientist Blake Shaw “prototyped and built the Pulse visualizations using Processing, the design-centric programming language and development environment."

The variety of ways developers use the Processing language is awe-inspiring, to say the least. But what’s even more incredible is to look at the projects—the world’s first 3D-printed record, “intercepting the process of precision farming by generative design,” and even Foursquare’s data visualizations—acheived and then consider Processing’s original, humble reasons for being created in the first place:

Initially created to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach computer programming fundamentals within a visual context, Processing evolved into a development tool for professionals. Today, there are tens of thousands of students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists who use Processing for learning, prototyping, and production.

It’s projects that use Processing along with Arduino boards, 3D printers, or—if you really want to make your head spin—non-Newtonian ink that have a far greater impact on our world than a simple change to a privacy policy that we all should’ve seen coming.

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