Opinion Space

Opinion Space will harness the power of connection technologies to provide a unique forum for international dialogue. This is…an opportunity to extend our engagement beyond the halls of government directly to the people of the world.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 2010

Opinion Space is an online platform designed to promote more nuanced dialogue and surface insightful ideas. It asks participants to vote on a series of questions, then asks them to contribute a comment.

Instead of representing comments in a long list, it places them as dots within a three-dimensional space. The location of the dots is derived from participants’ votes using collaborative filtering and multidimensional visualization techniques. The resulting “map” highlights overall patterns and insightful individuals that might otherwise get lost in the crowd.

Opinion Space 2.0_1273266781465

A version of Opinion Space is now in use at the US State Department as part of their public diplomacy initiative.

I was Opinion Space’s original interaction designer from 2009 to 2010, working on both the initial Berkeley prototype and then the version deployed for the US State Department.

Press about Opinion Space

  • US Department of State Blog (Dipnote): http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/site/entry/opinionspace_global_digital_conversation
  • US. Department of State Announcement: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/03/138326.htm
  • Harvard Journalism Lab: http://www.niemanlab.org/2010/03/global-opinions-visualized-the-state-departments-opinion-space/#more-13891
  • Tech President Blog: http://techpresident.com/blog-entry/state-departments-brand-new-opinion-driven-global-data-visualization-thingy
  • CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6307886n&tag=api
  • UK Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/mar/18/opinion-space-state-department
  • Government Technology Times: http://www.govtech.com/gt/articles/750825
  • Bay Citizen: http://www.baycitizen.org/columns/brainstorm/civility-algorithm/
  • ICT4Peace: http://ict4peace.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/opinion-space-a-compelling-new-initiative-from-us-state-department/
  • Wired News: http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/04/new-tool-shows/
  • SF Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/techchron/detail?blogid=19&entry_id=38849
  • Fast Company: http://www.fastcompany.com/1586879/us-state-department-cozies-up-to-social-media-and-infographics
  • Network World: http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/59390

Familiar Strangers

About the project

As humans we come to understand the places around us using a myriad of observable cues, such as public-private, large-small, daytime-nighttime, loud-quiet, and crowded-empty. Unsurprisingly, it is the people with which we share such spaces that often dominate our perception of place. Sometimes these people are friends, family and colleagues. More often, and particularly in urban public spaces, the individuals who affect us are ones that we repeatedly observe and yet do not directly interact with – our Familiar Strangers.

This research project explored the often ignored yet very meaningful relationships with Familiar Strangers. Several experiments and studies led to a design for a personal, body-worn, wireless device that extends the Familiar Stranger relationship while respecting the delicate, yet important, constraints of our feelings and relationships with strangers in public places. Sponsored by Intel Research from 2003–4, with Eric Paulos.

More complete information on the Familiar Strangers project