The Dawesome Digest #17 — latest news from Brendan Dawes
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The Dawesome Digest Issue No. 17
The final Dawesome Digest of the year is a short one, featuring one project and some things that hopefully you may find interesting. Thanks for letting me drop into your inbox — it's appreciated. It may be back next year, might not...
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Carefully Everywhere Descending 

Physical light based installation for PricewaterhouseCoopers
I'm always interested in doing things I don't know how to do. I like the challenge of figuring things out — it's way more fun than just going through the motions of what's gone before.

When PwC approached me earlier this year to create a graphic for a 10 metre wide wall in their newly built London Data Lab I thought we might be able to do something a bit different to a static graphic pasted onto a wall. 

The PwC Data Lab shows their clients the power of data, how you can use it and how you can surface interesting insights. When I saw the plans for the Data Lab as you might expect there was a lot of glowing rectangles — lots of screens that would allow people to view and interact with data. That's great but data doesn't have to be trapped behind glass all the time, so after a few sketches I proposed creating a physical installation — driven by live data — that would punctuate the space with fabric covered glowing cubes. They loved the idea, all I had to do now is figure out how to make such a thing.

This is probably the biggest project I've ever undertaken — creating 220 custom made cubes, each with custom made circuits, wiring and software. Luckily I had a great collaborator in the form of Kate Egan, who worked out all the fabric side of things and helped me install the work over two days — working through the night in a building that decides to turn off the air conditioning in the small hours. 

It was certainly a project that contained many firsts for me. First time I'd used to employ a electrical engineer to bash into shape my little prototype circuit. First time i'd used a circuit board manufacturer (PCBcart) to get those circuits made (and they were brilliant). First time I'd used the underside of my self-built dining table extension —normally reserved for Christmas — as a makeshift surface to stick hundreds of LED circuits onto. Oh and it was also the first time I hired a Delta Deck — a very handy two person platform normally used in construction. I had no idea about any of those things before I started this project, so when someone tells you it can't be done because you don't have that knowledge, tell them from me to bloody do one. You learn this stuff, like everyone else.
The end result is now live 24 hours a day in the PwC London Data Lab and lets visitors choose between three different feeds — Twitter, Transport for London tube status and the current weather for that location.  The TFL data seems to be the most popular, with wavy lines matching the colour of the tube lines travelling the structure. The more active a line the better that tube line is running.

When people see this installation I'm hoping it might make them think just how data can be represented. By bringing it into the physical world, freeing it from behind that ever present glass  it might possibly alter our relationship to it.
View the work


A few things that I've chanced across since the last issue
Simplify3D — a great piece of software to create toolpaths for 3D printing

Keyshot 7 — really fab software for high quality rendering, but expensive

Sortly — I have lots of physical things that I store to build projects. Sortly lets me organise and find these things with ease

Skyfonts — font subscription service from Monotype. I'm signed up and love it

Font of the Month Club — from David Jonathan Ross, get a new font every month. Yes!

Bring your Darlings Back to Life — superb radio programme about those bits thrown on the cutting room floor

3D printed objects connect to Wifi with no electronics — what I just said

The Serial Killer Detector — how an algorithm is being used to detect serial killers

Interview with me for Lecture in Progress

Explain Shell — write down command line commands and get the explanation 

HandsHQ — need to write risk assessment statements? No I don't usually but sometimes I have to, This site will help
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