In just a few days the United States will vote for its next president. At this point in the election cycle, most of the public has seen a vast array of news coverage about the race, which has covered the candidates from many angles. In this installment of Meaningful Media Now, we look at how some artists and programmers are using technology to analyze and remix election coverage. These emerging methods allow viewers to see familiar televised events in a new light, and may even have the potential for influence.
The advantages of diversity in the tech industry have been carefully studied and reported on. Companies that hire women and minorities outperform their competitors and see higher financial returns. New studies, reported on by FastCompany, show that industry leaders are well-aware of the value of diversity. Yet, we aren’t seeing the rush for inclusion that we would expect. Advice for how to increase diversity focuses on things like improving the language of recruitment and creating a more friendly working environment. However, there is a key component of the modern hiring landscape that gets overlooked.Take a moment to think about what makes a good employee. What qualities do they have? What type of impact do they have on their company?
Virtual reality is in the eye of the beholder. Filmmaker and entrepreneur Chris Milk optimistically calls VR an “empathy machine,” while the Wall Street Journal warns that VR’s “hype is about to come crashing down.” Across this spectrum of opinion, the only thing everyone can agree on is that it’s a newly accessible medium offering novel experiences for audiences.Do these experiences lead to empathy? If you define empathy as, “knowing and feeling what another person knows and feels,” of course some VR stories do. So do some books, radio programs, and movies – each in their own way. Saying VR is an empathy machine is like saying a paintbrush is an art machine. There are myriad ways to generate aspects of empathy with media, just like there are infinite ways to create forms of art with tools.
This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.How many presidential candidates have you actually met in person? Not that many. A large majority of us — the electorate — meet our candidates through media. Whether it is watching a debate on television, scanning social media commentary from friends, or reading political analysis in a newspaper, nearly all of the evidence the presidential electorate utilizes in its voting decisions is delivered by media. If we are to have a chance at understanding how this evidence leads to a decision on Election Day then we must zoom in on the cycle of evidence and decision formation: did a campaign commercial or a debate appearance sway the voter’s choice? Did either compel the voter to donate to the candidate’s campaign or PAC?
“Virtual reality represents a giant leap forward in mankind’s propensity for compassion. You don’t just walk in someone’s shoes, but see the world through their eyes. In essence, a virtual reality headset is an empathy machine.”– Josh Constine, TechCrunch 
Storytellers focused on creating social impact are excited to use new virtual reality technologies to inspire empathy. While we’re also excited, we want to highlight how exactly this might (not) work when it comes to inspiring action. The experience virtual reality creates, even if it fosters empathy, may generate a very different outcome from what storytellers have in mind.
Tribeca Film Festival isn’t the first place you’d expect to find an art installation that plays with sensory deprivation, virtual reality, and biometrics, but that’s exactly where the UK-based creative agency Anagram chose for the Stateside debut of their immersive documentary experience, Door into the Dark. Those participating were asked to “replace the visual with the sensual” by blindfolding themselves, donning heart-rate monitors and headphones that would provide narration as they moved through an unfamiliar, staged environment. HI joined forces with Tribeca and Anagram to analyze the biometric data collected from participants throughout their avant-garde narrative experience.In this post, our Director of Design and Technology Clint Beharry and in-house designer Sher Chew chat about their experience creating meaningful visualizations from the biometric data provided by Door into the Dark participants.