Data-viz of computer energy consumption

Demographic survey of householders

Demographic survey of householders

A dynamic interactive application for collecting quantitative information about items in a population in a systematic way. But whereas most surveys are functional and text based this demographic survey uses a curious set of illustrations to help the interviewee give the right answer even if English is a second language. The illustrations give the survey a sense of fun and create an engaging interface that encourages the interviewee to take part. The drawings and animations help the interviewee understand the question.

The rise of the survey

The survey is the front end of market research, and very few businesses start up without reading in depth market research tracts about their intended markets. From the 1930s Hollywood employed the market research techniques of George Gallup to poll movie goers and test the 'brand' loyalty of movie stars.

But market research isn't confined to multi-million dollar block busters. Arts Council England works to get great art to everyone by championing, developing and investing in artistic experiences that enrich people's lives. One of the ways it does that is through segmentation, a market research method where a given market is broken down into distinct groups of people that behave in similar ways or have similar needs. An organisation can use a segmentation to better understand its market, to identify groups that it would like to target and to develop products which anticipate their needs better.

You don't need to look too far before you come up against some sort of survey. Most of our everyday live require some sort of feedback form to validate our existence. On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate this article so far?

The survey as art

Surveys are increasing while art budgets are being cut. So why don't the arts organisation pay arts to devise interesting surveys? And the curator could justify the decision by referencing a 1970s conceptual artist. Don Celender’s created a series of questionnaires about art or esthetics, and sent them out to people in all walks of life, which he would post in the gallery as artworks.

While the professional pollster's ''accurate sampling'' is not the goal here, Mr. Celender's mailing list could use some cross-generational freshening. Still, the kind of opinions this survey plumbs tend to come from a lifetime of working, looking, watching and sometimes waiting. ROBERTA SMITH

For me the survey is an interesting vehicle for creative ideas. I have produced various surveys and attempted to use the format as an artistic form.

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