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Data visualization builds new models and understanding

data visualization builds new models and understanding 1

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On March 2-3, the department was honored to host a workshop, “Making Sense of Syria: Visualizing Social Patterns of Conflict in Video Reporting from the Free Syrian Army.” Focused on data collected by Syria Conflicts Monitor from YouTube videos made by armed units of the Free Syrian Army, this two-day workshop and public panel discussion brought together data science, GIS, visualization, graduate students, and area specialists from The World Bank, The United Nations, Google, The Carter Center, Change Assembly,, and more to explore how to make sense of social patterns in the Syrian conflict—and possible directions for scaling the collection and social analysis of video content in conflict.

Our partner explains:

Data visualization was used to build new models for conflict monitoring, negotiations and peace strategies. YouTube videos have played an influential role in the Syrian conflict, informing participants and audiences within Syria, the Middle East, and globally, and even playing a role in the trajectory of the conflict itself. They are one of the few sources of information on the conflict, and due the magnitude of videos — hundreds uploaded daily — working to accurately organize and visualize data from these videos holds enormous value in following this conflict and perhaps others to come.

Congratulations to all, including current MFA Interaction Design students Tony Chu, Pamela Jue, Mini Kim, Shelly Ni, and Alex Todaro who participated, on a tremendous contribution in just one intensive weekend. The department looks forward to ongoing collaborations.

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