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Jer Thorp
Works at The New York Times
Lives in Vancouver
4,195 followers|137,151 views
Have him in circles
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Artist, Educator
  • The New York Times
    Data Artist In Residence, present
Basic Information
Data Artist in Residence @ The New York Times

Jer Thorp is an artist and educator from Vancouver, Canada, currently living in New York. A former geneticist, his digital art practice explores the many-folded boundaries between science and art. Recently, his work has been featured by The New Yorker, Fast Company and the CBC.

Thorp’s award-winning software-based work has been exhibited in Europe, Asia, North America, South America, and Australia and all over the web.

Jer has over a decade of teaching experience, in Langara College’s Electronic Media Design Program, at the Vancouver Film school, and as an artist-in-residence at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Most recently, he has presented at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Art, at Eyebeam in New York City, and at IBM’s Center for Social Software in Cambridge.

In his previous life as a Flash developer and designer, Jer produced work for a broad base of clients including Honda, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, FOX, and the LA Kings., Jer’s unique collection of organic Flash experiments and generative artworks, has won numerous awards and has been featured in many art and design publications, both online and in print. Jer is a contributing editor for Wired UK.

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Vancouver - Vancouver


Hundreds of dragonflies, swarming outside the window of the Hong Kong airport. I wonder what they're eating?
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"-- may each point of Heaven be mapp'd, or projected, upon each point of Hell, and vice versa. And what intercepts the Projection, about mid-way (reckon'd logarithmickally) between?  why, this very Earth, and our lives here upon it. We only think we occupy a solid, Brick-and-Timber City,– in Reality, we live upon a Map. Perhaps even our Lives are but representations of Truer Lives, pursued above and below, as to Philadelphia correspond both a vast Heavenly City, and a crowded niche of Hell, each element of one faithfully mirror'd in the others."

- Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon
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Jer Thorp

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I'm spending 2 weeks at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio center, as a PopTech/Rockefeller fellow. The grounds are 50+ acres, right on the tip of the peninsula. Olive trees, old fortifications, meandering pathways. 

I'll warn you all right now that I'll probably post a lot more photos.
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Swimmers hit the starting gate at the NYC Swim crossing of the East River.
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I agree up close that water look very Dirty from there but still it's nature only plants under the water to make it seem Green.
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I wrote a short article for The Harvard Business Review on thinking about visualization as a process (not a product), and on the value of iteration:
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Hi i want to learn big data visualization. I use d3js for it. Any suggestions for good tools?? reply plz
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This is an excerpt from scientist Robert Wilson's testimony before the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy on April 17, 1969. He's being asked about the value of building Fermilab's first accelerator (via Robert Crease).

SENATOR PASTORE. Is there anything connected in the hopes of this accelerator that in any way involves the security of the country?

DR. WILSON. No, sir; I do not believe so.

SENATOR PASTORE. Nothing at all?

DR. WILSON. Nothing at all.

SENATOR PASTORE. It has no value in that respect?

DR. WILSON. It only has to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of men, our love of culture. It has to do with those things.

It has nothing to do with the military. I am sorry.

SENATOR PASTORE. Don't be sorry for it.

DR. WILSON. I am not, but I cannot in honesty say it has any such application.

SENATOR PASTORE. Is there anything here that projects us in a position of being competitive with the Russians, with regard to this race?

DR. WILSON. Only from a long-range point of view, of a developing technology. Otherwise, it has to do with: Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things that we really venerate and honor in our country and are patriotic about.

In that sense, this new knowledge has all to do with honor and country but it has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to help make it worth defending.
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Sad, and this scientific myopia is why the SSC was abandoned
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Jer Thorp

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My friend and fellow National Geographic Emerging Explorer +Steve Boyes  is in the midst of an 18-day expedition into the Okavango Delta - one of the world's richest wildlife areas.

We convinced Steve to let us build an API around the expedition, which allows anyone anywhere to access the data they are collecting - wildlife counts - along with position data and biometrics of the team members.

This is really exciting to me, as it connects us not only to the visual experience of the expedition, but also to the data that they've set out to collect.

We've put up a website - - where you can follow along with the progress of the expedition. We'll be adding more features as the expedition progresses, including sound and images, and interface to see trends and patterns among the wildlife sightings that are being recorded.

Data folks can connect to the API, which serves up GeoJSON in different flavours here:

Big thanks to +Brian House who build most (all) of the back-end and to Ian Ardouin-Fumat, who made the interface look as great as it does.
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I wrote a short(ish) post about the API as a medium for artistic engagement.

Which would be a much sexier looking link, if I had included a photo.

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Yeah I was learning Node.js and decided to write a single page app using the Twitter API (easy to query in Node
.js), I wanted to aggregate all the times someone used the ''Thanks Obama" meme:
Its dumb but funny, and just 50ish lines of code. You can create some interesting mashups of data using APIs.
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Want an animated GIF of that video you just uploaded to Google+?

I noticed in the Google+ notifications menu (the one with the bell icon), that you get clever little previews of your videos, as animated GIFs. Like this one:

I got this URL simply by right-clicking on the animated image in the notifications menu, and choosing 'Copy Image URL'.

Awesomely, you can change the size of the image to any size you want:

It seems like this only works for the ones in your notifications menu - I poked around a bit to see if I could find the URL from the main photo page or from individual video pages, with no luck.
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Spending the week at National Geographic. Last night, we had a chance to check out the newest exhibit in the museum, an overview of 125 years of the National Geographic Society.
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Has anyone done a +Jason Salavon style average of all these covers? It occurs to me it would be pretty cool to be able to download images of all the covers... I have some art ideas brewing right now...
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The Office For Creative Research is hiring! 

We have an amazing team, a great studio, and a giant pile of interesting projects just starting.

Please feel free to pass this on to anyone who might be interested:



TITLE: Now Hiring – Creative Researchers
DATE: March 25, 2013
AUTHOR(S): Thorp, J.


We are looking to hire two Creative Researchers to join the team at OCR.

These positions are open immediately. They are contract, full-time, with a good chance to move to full-time permanent.

Immediate work will be on two large scale publicly-sited data projects. The first has 3 million data points, 40 foot tall projections, and close collaboration with a world-class statistician. The second is a data investigation of the history of computing, will combine text, images and statistics, and will live on two 300sqft video walls.


- Proven skills in Processing, along with oF, Cinder, WebGL, or some combination of the above
- Data processing & visualization abilities (NLP, Mongo, Python, R are all desired bonuses).
- A deep interest in exploring the boundaries between data, art & culture


- A diverse set of truly fascinating projects ranging from pure R&D to gallery installations to editorials for major publications
- A unique, research-focused approach to data-related problems
- A studio on Bowery St. in Manhattan
- An inclusive, friendly, open work environment
- That new company smell

We are looking to fill these positions immediately.

Send an e-mail to telling us why you might be the right person for the job.

(For these positions we are looking for people that are NYC-based, or who can re-locate right away.)

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Jer Thorp

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This tweet from Chris Hadfield, up on the ISS:

Made me think of my favourite passage from Pynchon:

"She looked down a slope, needing to squint for the sunlight, onto a vast sprawl of houses which had grown up all together, like a well-tended crop, from the dull brown earth; and she thought of the time she’d opened a transistor radio to replace a battery and seen her first printed circuit. The ordered swirl of houses and streets, from this high angle, sprang at her now with the same unexpected, astonishing clarity as the circuit card had. Though she knew even less about radios than about Southern Californians, there were to both outward patterns a hieroglyphic sense of concealed meaning, of an intent to communicate. There’d seemed no limit to what the printed circuit could have told her (if she had tried to find out); so in her first minute of San Narciso, a revelation also trembled just past the threshold of her understanding.” 

Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
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