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Second Story Media – Cutting Edge Data Visualization

2013 February 28
by Shared by Steve Rust

As I’ve written in previous posts, Portland, Oregon is home to a burgeoning market for film and media production. One company that is currently on the cutting edge of data visualization technologies is Second Story Interactive Media, whose company motto is “Elevating the Art of Storytelling.” Second Story was founded in 1994 by artist Julie Beeler and interactive media specialist Brad Johnson. During its brief history, the company has designed stand-alone kiosks, online multimedia, interactive installations, mobile and tablet apps, and “digital/analog blurred reality.”

Second Story’s work can be seen around the US. For example, they have just completed work on combined multimedia installation/website centerpiece entitled “The Emerging Issues Commons” for the North Carolina State University Institute for Emerging Issues. The goal of the project is to bring such issues as education, economics, health, and environment into a single space for shared conversation. Users both at the installation and on the web can find information and visualizations of such issues as increasing access to higher education in rural areas, preparing a workforce to meet the challenges of next generation manufacturing, and developing a built infrastructure that maintains environmental sustainability.

Another of Second Story’s recent projects is the Ecological Urbanism App, which they designed in 2012 for the Harvard Graduate School of Design and have made available to the public at the Apple store. Not simply and ebook, “this iPad app visualizes the growing body of discourse surrounding the design and management of cities. . . . A timely evolution of the book, this iPad app visualizes the growing body of discourse surrounding the design and management of cities.”


For the Portland musical ensemble Third Angle, Second Story designed what they have described as, “a raw industrial space, transformed into an immersive underwater world through giant video projections,” in 2005 to serve “as an environmental backdrop to a contemporary music performance.”

To be sure, not all of Second Story’s projects are ecologically-themed, such as their installations for Nike and Coca Cola. I am hoping to take University of Oregon Cinema Studies Students on a tour of Second Story’s Portland studios in April or May and will be sure to ask them detailed questions about their own sustainability efforts to reduce the ecological footprint of their media projects. Look for a follow-up after that visit.

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