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Moviebarcodes – How many insights do you get from them?

The newest craze in datavisualizations could be the construction of moviebarcodes. It surely fits the modern definition: Complex phenomemon -> Beautiful pattern.

In short you make a popular datavisualization by taking something very complex and run it through several computerprograms – or even custom code if you’re a programmer. The result should end up as some sort of a pattern – preferably involving colors. Make sure to keep a high resolution or perhaps add some noise to the process, or it will look like you’ve done a shallow job.

After you’re done with the processing, it’s time to start gaining insights … In the case of moviebarcodes, you might be able to tell when a longer scene takes place outside, or if the heroine in Kill Bill wears a yellow suit!

We have a high inkratio – every pixel here holds some information. But the insight-ratio is very low: If you’re lucky you can recognize the obvious and perhaps test your memory. I don’t see anyhting useful – other than hanging the barcode on your wall and try to impress your friends, when they ask about it. In fact this is just what you’re encouraged to do – you can buy the ‘barcodes’ framed for 109.44 dollars each.

The accompanying image to this article is a screendumb of all the moviebarcodes up for sale, done in February. Noone has figured out how these are actually made – personally I have a hard time believing the common idea, that every single frame from the movies are present in these barcodes as 1 px wide slices. That would be an image 130.000 pixels wide. More likely it’s every 100th frame or such.

Wired has interviewed the creator behind this idea, but as the creator wouldn’t reveal name, occupation or process to create the images, it all seems a bit shady to me.