We admire Jonathan Harris. He caught our attention when he explored online dating behaviors using pioneering data visualization for the game-changing MOMA exhibit, We Feel Fine. A few years later, he launched Cowbird, an ahead-of-its-time storytelling platform. Today, Cowbird has mushroomed into a community of RenGen worldwide.
Jonathan Harris is precog. His visual stories have an otherworldly quality that bends technologies to a more human purpose. But mainly, Harris’s work makes me think we are entering an age where computing power and our own intelligence are converging. The last two years have seen mind-bending uses of social technology and big data.
Sounds a little crazy, I know. But based on some of our recent client projects, I’m seeing that social technologies have evaporated the distance between vision and reality. If we can imagine it, we can make it happen. Can we tell that story in a 6-second Vine video? Or post a concept thread on tumblr and see what images collect around it? Voila! an abstract idea has shape and substance.
Harris’s work feeds a deeper need for meaning. Maybe that’s why he is moving the cultural needle. His work is vivid example of how the human imagination can be liberated, rather than abducted, by new media.