Point Cloud, a kinetic sculpture by the designer James Leng, takes weather data from the web and expresses it in the form of a moving, shifting wire “cloud,” powered by hundreds of super-tiny servos and connectors. Even as the technology we use for predicting the weather has grown more and more complex, Leng writes, our means for displaying what we know have remained laughably simple (think of those little cartoon pictures of the sun or a thundercloud). You can’t use Point Cloud to read the forecast, but it does capture, in a beautiful way, the fact that the weather, cartoon forecasts aside, is what Leng calls “permanently variable.”
You can see some great behind-the-scenes photographs at Leng’s Flickr page.
Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His last article for Ideas was about choosing Congress by lottery.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.