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Stamen Design
Project Description:
Backchannel is a real-time view of the conversation happening in the #etech IRC channel at O'Reilly's Emerging Technology Conference. Stamen Design has a bot observing events in the channel, publishing them as a web-service via XML and JSON, and making them available to a visualization component built in Flash.

A conference backchannel is home to a lot of interesting conversational dynamics: additional context, participation from speakers, visitors from elsewhere in the world, sniping, and coordinated walkouts. The authors were intrigued by the idea of a pointedly live visual environment that would illustrate and respond to this other space.

Each participant in the backchannel is shown in a circle, with nicknames arranged alphabetically, counter-clockwise from right. Blue bars next to each nickname show how active each participant has been. Connections between nicknames show participants who?ve spoken around the same time. Events are marked in a narrow strip across the top, in blue. The most recent events are at right, stretching back in time about three hours to the left.

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