Weak Genes

image of Samsung Genome Project's map of my connections to Olympic athletes

RIDGEFIELD PARK, NJ, 27 April — Launched 10 April, and sued yesterday by 18 Olympic athletes claiming implied endorsement without consent, the Samsung Electronics America Inc., Olympic Genome Project on Facebook is a social network visualized poorly. Essentially “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” for the Olympics via Facebook, SGP takes the dubious “degrees of separation” concept to new lows. Instead of my cousin once went to a party with your neighbor, Samsung’s largely contentless marketing ploy offers that you and some athlete both liked the film Inception or the show Mad Men as the new non-bar in social connections.

OMG! OMG! Skier Ashley Caldwell and I BOTH liked The Matrix!! OMG! Could we BE any more like sisters!? OMG!
No way!? Munich Games Canoeing Bronze Medalist James McEwan and I BOTH like Ingmar Bergman's film Persona!? Wow! Jamie and I are SO deep!

I’m a big fan of Network Visualizations. They are truly powerful when they show the flow of corporate power, the spread of disease (hahaha, no, those aren’t the same thing) Or, for so many of us, the intricacies of our “friend networks” in a space like Facebook. Touchgraph does all those things and I’ve published their visualizations of my evolving FB-Net on several occasions.

As info-graphics have become de rigueur these days, they have achieved new heights of slick gloss and vapid contentlessness. The lines, arcs, colors, and placed images are all so vivid on my iPad… does it really have to mean anything? Can’t I just enjoy my info-porn?

A classic of network visualization, Josh On's "They Rule" from 2001. Here, as used by Keyhude in 2011, a decade after launch, to create "Big 6 Corporate Media"
detail view, my Facebook friend network, today, 27 April 12 (click image for larger view)
or in "continent view"
a Network Visualization of the 84 Facebook "friends" that Ze Moo and I have in common.

As long I’m thinking about “info porn” here’s 2 more: Below, from Wired Magazine’s Infoporn column, a half century of Body Mass Index (BMI) for Playboy Playmates vs American Women. In 1954 they were close, with “real” women having a BMI of about 21 and Playmates about 19. A half century later, in 2008, American Men and Women had both gained significant weight, with the average female BMI up to about 27 while the increasingly taller and thinner (but still C-cup) Playmates were down almost to a BMI of 17.

Finally, at bottom, from David McCandless website Information is Beautiful, the relieving news that blogging is safer than flying.

Then again… while air travelers do generally sit during travel… and while you don’t have to sit to blog… still, it seems reasonable that air travelers might actually be on their feet a lot, and that heavy bloggers may well sit a lot, an in light of our recent blog post that Sitting is the New Smoking, it could be the case that overall, bloggers are at far greater health risk than air travelers. Not simply the amusing, astronomical difference in the chart, but a true shortage of life expectancy by years.

We’ve lied with statistics since forever, but numbers were boring to most, today we have sexy infographics to lie with, or as in the case of Samsung’s Olympic Genome Project, simply to say nothing at all.

Wired Magazine image of Body Mass Index over time for Playboy Playmates and average American women

David McCandless infographic on the mortality risk of air travel and other activities

R E L A T E D . M A T E R I A L S

Samsung Olympic Genome Project on Facebook
Samsung Olympic Genome Project on Samsung Website

Linked by Albert-László Barabási / Northeastern University

Touchgraph / Facebook
Touchgraph Website
733 Friends (network visualization)
VB on Social Networks

They Rule
Interview with Josh On

Infoporn defined / Wiktionary
Wired Infoporn on Playmate BMI

Information is Beautiful
Information is Beautiful / Chances of Dying in a Plane Crash
Sitting is the New Smoking

As a virtual public artist my work invites avatar communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

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