All posts by Wes G.

Visualizing China’s Energy Investments Around the Globe

There’s little doubt that China has become a growing dominant influence in global financial initiatives. Since 2000, China has provided an upwards of $160 billion in development finance to the energy sector for foreign governments across the globe. To understand the scope and breadth of these investments, we worked with Boston University’s Global Economic Governance Initiative to create an interactive visualization–The China Global Energy Database–that allows you to explore China’s global investments.

In approaching this project, we were provided a dataset of finance projects detailed with many attributes, some of which included where the project was financed, what year, who financed it, and what type of energy source and sub sector of the project’s objective. With these attributes alone, there are many ways to view this data such as trends for investments for a given country or trends for specific energy source. You may want to see how energy sources vary by region in any given year. We created cross-linked visualizations to allow you to explore each of these views and how they relate to one another.

Read a detailed policy brief about this project or go and explore the China Global Energy Database.

Several views from this project:

China's Global Investments

Total global investments between 2000 and 2016.

Energy sub-sector trends in 2016.

Energy sub-sector trends in 2016.

Energy sub-sector trends by region between 2000 and 2016.

Energy sub-sector trends by region between 2000 and 2016.

Energy source trends by region in 2016.

Energy source trends by region in 2016.

Ricky Watts Does a Mural in our Oakland Office

2015 treated us well at Pitch. We worked on some amazing and challenging projects and built a cohesive team we shaped by working hard to define our values. We’ve also matured on so many levels. If there were a key word to define 2015 it would be “gratitude” and we have plenty to give.

ricky_portraitAbout our values, we believe that it’s crucial that you not only find time to do work  you are personally passionate about, but to also support others whose work moves you. With this in mind, we commissioned Ricky Watts, our favorite muralist, to paint an entire wall in our studio. We gave Ricky total free rein and asked only that he do whatever he wanted on the wall. To go crazy: He did just that. The work is an amazing example of allowing artists to have their creative autonomy. Sure, sometimes we need constraints, but even with constraints, artists need to be trusted. Our most successful projects are the ones where we’ve had creative autonomy and full trust from our clients.

Ricky created this mural in 3 days entirely freehand with spray cans. One of the most rewarding aspects about this work is that we get to experience it every day we come to work. Not only an amazing piece of creative inspiration, but the satisfaction knowing that we were able to support another artist to create this. Ricky detonated a rainbow for us. Thanks Ricky.

Ricky Watts mural


Teaching at Anderson Ranch

Wes and his students.I just returned from a week-long workshop at the Anderson Ranch in Snowmass Village, Colorado, where I taught a workshop on making art with data. It was such an amazing experience to see artists with no programming experience turn into creative coders in under a week. The workshop consisted of 10 students and an intern, mostly coming from backgrounds in the arts and with little programming experience.

I started the workshop with a day away from the computer. Hiking in the the Rockies! Hiking in the Rockies While hiking, students collected data samples on the trail from which we would tell a story at the end of our hike.

On the second day, the group assembled Arduino environmental sensors that collected noise and light data that the students collected from various locations around Snowmass Village.

By Day 3, everyone was ready to hunker down and get to work, learning the basics of Processing and the key aspects of how to manipulate visual elements and tie those to the data collected (we grew a deep affection towards the map() function).

ArtworkFinally by the end of the fifth day, we all had art made in Processing from our data! This was a great opportunity to introduce artists not only to code as a medium, but also the use of actual data.

The focus was not on finding insights (though some were found) as much as it was how to explore visual ways of representation for purely creative purposes. And the outcomes were pretty amazing, especially considering this was an entry-level for students with little coding experience.

One of the highlights of the experience was that I rode my motorcycle from Oakland all the way to Snowmass Village (about 1,200 miles each way). Highway 50 through Nevada and Utah was a new discovery that boasted the beauty of the West.

Utah Hwy 50