Lasers, Food & Data (Telling a Story About Food Security) | MIT Center for Civic Media
Rahul Bhargava is a researcher and technologist specializing in civic technology and data literacy. He creates interactive websites used by hundreds of thousands, playful educational experiences across the globe, and award-winning visualizations for museum settings. As a Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Civic Media, Rahul leads technical development on projects ranging from interfaces for quantitative news analysis, to platforms for crowd-sourced sensing. He has a special interest in how new technologies are introduced to people in settings focused on learning. Rahul is a drummer and father based in Somerville, MA.
Lasers, Food & Data (Telling a Story About Food Security)
Can a vegetable tell a story about food access in Somerville? Yep.
In public settings, it can be quite hard to get folks walking by interested in a data-driven argument about your cause. We often argue that a creative data sculpture can grab their attention… like maybe a vegetable laser cut with some data about food security!
We’ve worked with the Somerville Food Security Coalition a few times, including for our first data mural pilot project! Recently, we had a chance to come together again around their local data about food security at the Somerville Arts Council’s 2014 Ignite Festival. The festival celebrates fire and food, which inspired us to laser cut some data onto food and see how people reacted!
Here’s all the veggies we cut – eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, bread, and watermelon:
In addition, we prompted folks to interact with two questions – both of which they could answer with M&Ms and raisins. Asking folks to take an M&M survey is a highly effective way to get them to interact with their data!
Here’s a behind-the-scenes video showing the laser cutter in action:
This is cross-posted to my Data Therapy Blog.