TED Fellows » TED Fellows Network » David Gurman

David Gurman

Installation artist

Fellows Class:
David Gurman

Professional Role

Current Titles:

Data Story-Teller, Co Founder and Chief Creative Officer @ Vibrant Data Labs

Current Organizations:

Brainvise, TED, 509 Cultural Center, Fleishhacker Foundation


Uploaded Photos

Flickr Photostream


The Nicholas Shadow

The Nicholas Shadow, 1st Installation St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco, 2009: A Russian founded Orthodox Church Bell bearing the icon of St. Nicholas tolled hourly registering the number of reported civilian deaths in Iraq on that day. Web data from IBC (Iraqbodycount.org). Installed in a former confessional chapel of St. Ignatius Church. Apple Computer. Custom Software, MAX 5, Site Sucker. Electromechanical bell tolling mechanisms. Pulleys and silk ribbon.

View video on Vimeo »

VIBRANT DATA PROJECT #VDAT - vibrantdata.org

Participate in #VDAT: http://vibrantdata.org/#participate

Inspired by the Arab Spring popular uprisings’ use of Facebook and Twitter, The Vibrant Data Project is trying to understand the development landscape that is giving rise to the Gutenburg press of our era: disruptive analysis, communication, and commerce vehicles that have the potential to overthrow corrupt regimes, spread new ideas, broaden economic opportunity, improve health and well being and aid in the fight for social justice and human rights.

What is “vibrant data”? Why do we care about it?
Data – digital bits of information – are everywhere, and increasing at an explosive rate. But, for all that, not many of us truly, directly benefit from all the potential value that is there. We want to change that.

Our goal in this project is to make data more present and alive, useful and valuable in the daily lives of people. We call it “vibrant data.” To increase the vibrancy of data we need to increase its circulation, its ability to interact with other data, and its ability to lead to discovery of new value. As realists, we also need to solve critical challenges to prevent malicious uses of data. We’ve come up with a simple set of stages that data goes through as it circulates in the world. At each stage people and technology interact to increase the value of data – converting it first to information, then to knowledge and understanding, and finally to action and value. That already happens today, but in a very inaccessible way to most of us. At each stage we can ask how to increase not just the accessibility but the vibrancy – to increase the role of data and technology in ensuring data’s movement and interaction, and making the participation of people less arduous and more natural, even enjoyable. Many of the examples that follow take their inspiration from work that is already being done, problems that are already being solved. But more needs to be done. The whole cycle of vibrancy needs to be enhanced to enable a world where data routinely delivers value, and protection from abuse, to ordinary people on a global scale.

We have asked ~50 experts to participate who are directly linked to an explosion of online apps and platforms to help us map the qualities of a vibrant data ecosystem that gives people increased channels of communication and a bird's eye view of their participation in larger social networks.

The questions we are asking include:

• What are the fundamental problems to solve at every stage of the Vibrant Data (#vdat) lifecycle (from data creation ~> storage ~> organizaion ~> circulation ~> analysis ~> collaboration ~> action) that would broaden access to value derived from data?

• How are those problems related to one another? Does solving one resolve others (or make them worse)? By mapping those relations, can we identify cross cutting challenges that if creatively solved could transform our ability to leverage data for social good?

Open Data Project is a product of Tru North Labs, The Gathering Think Tank, Brainvise and is sponsored by Intel.

View video on Vimeo »


David Gurman, a TED Fellow, is an artist and designer known for using real time data and citizen reportage from conflict zones to drive kinetic art installations. His ‘real-time memorials’ are beacons for events we hear about but have no access to, broadening awareness and bridging distant cultures and landscapes. David co-founded Vibrant Data with TED Senior Fellows - Ecologist, Network Scientist, Eric Berlow and Computer Scientist, Kaustuv DeBiswas to build tools for data storytelling and collaborative understanding of complex networks. Current projects include mapping the network structure of the Syrian conflict and visualizing the ecology of human creativity. David has received grants and fellowships from TED, National Endowment for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, the Center for Cultural Innovation, the Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship, the Eureka Fellowship, the Fleishhacker Foundation, the Wattis Foundation, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. His work has been included in national and international exhibitions. His design work has been recognized by the FWA, WordPress, and Communication Arts.

Vital Stats

Fellows Class
TEDGlobal 2010
Living in
San Francisco, United States
Working in
San Francisco, United States
Born in
Washington, United States


vibrantdata.is/ brainvise.com/#!love/

Fellows I Am Collaborating With