Category Archives: open data

open data process + design workshop

Open Data Cooking is steaming in Helsinki

Yesterday we started the Open Data Cooking Workshop at Aalto Media Factory in Helsinki. Together with twelve participants we embarked on a journey through local open data, food and data representation with culinary means. In the morning we gave short introductions into the different disciplines like Open Data in Finland by Miska, principles of cooking and Finish cuisine by Antti and data visualisation by Moritz. See more documentation on the Data Cuisine site.

Participants introducing themselves by presenting cooking ingredients that they brought.

First exercise: Pick two topics and four ingredients and find relations. Make up a dish that could represent that subject.

Brainstorming in groups and data hunting.

Tell me what you found.

Getting deeper and deeper into it.

First sketches of dishes.

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Register now for the Open Data Cooking Workshop in Helsinki

As of now until August 31 you can register for the Open Data Cooking Workshop that prozessagenten are organising with Pixelache. The workshop takes place on September 15 – 16 and is an experimental research on the representation of data with culinary means. The workshop explores ways to represent local data through the inherent qualities of food such as color, form, texture, smell, taste, nutrition, origin etc. It offers to its participants the opportunity to translate data in concrete, sensually experienceable matter, from the language of numbers into the language of food, and thus to gain unexpected insights into both media and learn about their inner constructions and relations. Find more about the workshop here and on the Pixelache website.

If you would like to participate, simply send a short email to that tells us a bit about your motivation and background. Experience in working with data is welcome, but not required. Actually we would like to explicitly encourage people with an interest in cooking to participate.

open data

Getting emotional about Open Data

Open Data is a hot topic. Almost everybody seems to agree that making local data available to the public makes perfect sense. No doubt, citizens benefit from the increasing transparency of processes in their city, but the publication of this data also brings up some questions that are uncomfortable for those private corporations that gather all our individual data and use it without our explicit permission. One of the core question is who should own the data that we produce as citizens and individuals: The institutions collecting the data that we generate through our use of their systems and services or we, the data producers, ourselves. Shouldn’t those banks, phone companies, credit card services, doctors, shops, network providers, internet retailers, search engines at least provide transparency of what they actually do with the data, thus giving us the chance to decide whether we want to use their services under those circumstances or not. Should they not provide us with access to the data produced by us, so we can monitor ourselves better and maybe improve our own recording systems and simplify our tax statements for example?

At the same time, we already suffer from such an overload of information, that perhaps only a minority of people would actually access ‘their’ data and make use of it. The same applies to the public data that is already accessible. Who but those who have an affinity to data are looking up public data sets that are made available and even make use of them? This is where data visualisation can help. Data visualisation is a medium which emphasises specific aspects of the given data and offers a particular reading of it. Thus it becomes an expressive an powerful communication tool, that can even create a new reality. Numerous groups like WE LOVE OPEN DATA and individuals worldwide have started to visualise open data for the public good, driven by their own curiosity and philanthropism.

Translating rows of data into easy-to-read maps or comprehensive diagrams is one way of bridging the gap between dry numbers and the public. But why not going one step further and translating data into an even more sensual experience that we are all familiar with – like food? This is the basic idea of the Open Data Cooking Workshop. People who like to cook (and eat) are given an opportunity to explore both the local cuisine as well as local data by translating data into cooking recipes and meals. As much as this sounds fun, this collaborative research is supposed to give people concrete insights into the quality and diversity of the locally available data and teaches them principles of data representation. Through the very personal, emotional and sensual activity of cooking food they get involved with the material, be it vegetables or numbers.

After all, it looks like one of the challenges of the Open Data movement–next to opening up relevant data that citizens can relate to in a personal way–is to give people tools, methods and media enabling them to interpret, individualise and express data in an emotional way.

open data process + design workshop

‘Data Cooking’ or ‘How to make a real pie chart and other data dishes’

Have you ever tried to imagine how a fish soup tastes whose recipe is based on publicly available local fishing data? Or what a pizza would be like if it was based on your cities population mix? Do you want to know how public data could relate to cooking? Can you imagine to push the paradigms of data representation to the extreme by applying the principles of your local cuisine?

Then you should consider participating in the ‘Data Dinner Workshop’. It combines the representation of local open data with cooking. The workshop aims at researching ways to represent data on a multi-dimensional sensory level by exploring the inherent qualities of food such as colour, form, texture, smell, taste, nutrition, origin etc. It offers to its participants the opportunity to translate concrete numbers, i.e. local open data, into concrete matter, i.e. a menu, thereby gaining unexpected insights into both media and learning about their principles and relations.

The workshop is designed as a series of collaborative and experimental research experiences, blurring the boundaries between teachers and participants, data and food. At the end of each workshop, an open data menu and cookbook will be created.

The workshop series is organised by us in collaboration with Moritz Stefaner. Moritz is a well-known information visualizer focusing on information aesthetics and interactive visualization. He holds a B.Sc. in Cognitive Science and an M.A. In Interface Design. In each city where the workshop takes place a local chef will be teaching together with Moritz.

If you want to become involved, host a workshop or participate, please contact us.