The Secret Lives of Projects featured

The Secret Lives of Projects

Systems & Tools 27 April 2010 | 10.00am

Back in November 2009 we ran the first Arup HackDay. During HackDay people from around Arup gathered to create new tools and mash data over a 24 hour period. One of the tools created at HackDay by Andrew Tsakmakis was re-purposed to create the Secret Lives of Projects.

I’ve long been interested in project-based organisations and how new knowledge can be transferred from one project to another. The Secret Lives of Projects is a visualisation of the content created during an Arup project. It is a thought piece around the question “What is the shape of a project?” and an attempt to visualise some of the patterns of content creation as we work on projects.

The original tool was developed to index data with several features for quick searches. We did some more work after HackDay and pointed it towards a project directory. We then extracted meta-data from email archives and files. People in the email archive were identified and their business units and locations matched. We then linked billing data.

In the excerpt from communication network (below) the nodes reflect a pattern of communication through the project as people email each other. Nodes with yellow or blue dots grow as they bill time and so a picture emerges of who is speaking with whom and who are the key players working on the project. If this tool ran in real-time on your desktop could you tell if people were in the loop or not?

We worked with Greg More from OOM Creative to build an application using Adobe AIR and Flex. The video shows some of the visualisations from the AIR application.

The Secret Lives of Projects 1

Andrew Maher

Melbourne, Australia

“I lead Digital Innovation and my role is to develop new ways of working, delivering and communicating our services using the latest technological capabilities ranging from the way we engage with digital data, through to the use of new interactive design media.”

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