EL UNIVERSAL

The story of 100 years of journalism in México.

About the Exhibition

5 main topics were explored in the exhibition, by digital and analogue multimedia.

IBM’s Watson

IBM’s Watson is, simply put, a computing system capable of understanding ‘natural language’; in a very similar fashion to how human brains create and understand language. You can picture it as, let’s say, IBM’s take on Artificial Intelligence.

 

Having all the data from 100 years of daily news might not mean much if the information would remain static. But through the capabilities opened by Watson, we were able to correlate the information in ways that human analogue research would take months, even years to process.

 

Watson provided several features that allowed researchers, designers and developers to hunt for unknown and exciting manifestations of links between data. It became possible, for instance, to analyze the recurrence of a single character in different events; thus revealing unsuspected leading roles in major historical events.

From old paper to digital

One of the biggest challenge for this project was to actually obtain the digital information from 100 years of printed newsletters. This led the other teams to work with chunks of information, tackling the complexities of archiving, reading and visualizing the information piece by piece.

 

Due to the really small font sizes of the oldest specimens, special hacks and methods were required to pass everything through the OCR software. Unfortunately, images were not digitalized as standalone items due to unexpected delays because of the former situation.

Multidisciplinary team

Based on the different requirements for the project, diverse teams and roles were expected to work together. Several teams inside El Universal were in charge of tasks such as curating info for the exposition; digitalizing 100 years of newspapers; providing analytics and statistics for the visualization team; and so on. External teams provided consultancy on A.I. training for IBM’s Watson; consulting on the exposition production; information visualization (provided by us) and so on.

 

This allowed for a very rich exchange between teams, which resulted in a vast pol of shared knowledge, insight and experience; that ultimately allowed us to give shape to such a challenging output. The characteristics of the arrangement of the teams involved might be the first of its kind in a benchmark of Mexican Information Visualization projects.

The Output

The Interactive Timeline

 

Once the information on the printed newspapers was digitalized and ready to be processed with Watson, we started the design of an interactive timeline.

 

Opposite to a traditional Design process, we started creating rules and hypothesis for Watson to work and explore. The initial set of rules was meant to start as a series of open questions, giving room to Watson’s processing capabilities to return possible answers –and more questions!

 

This dynamic allowed the removal of bias from a key part of the research, and took the initial curator’s brief into a living conversation between researchers, designers, data and artificial intelligence.

 

The result is an interactive timeline capable of defying traditional conceptions of the news over time; providing insight through visualizations of the correlations between the massive data volumes at our disposal.

New angles of the story through Visualization

Adding up to the timeline, a diverse group of multimedia enhanced the experience on the exhibition. We developed engaging materials to tell additional stories with the same main character: data.

 

A short animated film gave a general perspective about El Universal’s achievements in 100 years; several infographics depicted incredible facts with numbers; diagrams explained the flow of information inside a Journalism agency; and so on.

 

We relied on our expertise on interactive and digital media to give life to a full-fledged exhibition that puts El Universal as a data visualization pioneer among its Mexican competitors.

 

Exposition at El Universal’s main HQ

The exhibition components remain as a milestone in the history of El Universal, as well as a nomad exhibition intended to be placed and shown in several places among the country.

Insight

Design as Facilitator

 

Although working with very different teams meant an important challenge, we found out a truly useful proxy in Design to incorporate the input and insight of everyone involved.

 

Development challenges; content requirements; research questions; communication objectives; everything slowly took form as a whole as ideation, prototyping and mockups were used to reveal the ever-changing body of the exhibition and its multiple narratives.

At the core of a project as important as this, we found how multi-discipline work in experimental technology is still in a very primitive stage in our country. Through the collaboration with talented experts and organizations like the ones involved in this project, we are aiming to raise the bar for projects in our country that challenge the intersection between Design and Technology.

 

Drop us a line and let us know your thoughts on this Case Study, or if you would like to know any other insight about the topic: hola@raidho.mx

 

El Universal is probably the most important News Outlet in México. 2016 marked its 100 anniversary, and in order to commemorate it, a special exhibition was designed to tell –through visualized information– the story of 100 years of journalism in México.

Share this project:

¿Think we should work together?

Explore More Projects