As a new kind of device, the iPad has forced developers and users alike to toss out their traditional notions of what data is and how it is presented. While smartphones like the iPhone and those using Google Android kicked off that transformation, the iPad, with its 9.7-inch screen and almost infinite number of ways to present data and information, has kicked things into a higher gear.
Already, people are using the iPad to change how we interact with games, magazines, productivity tools, and other software. But now, a start-up called Bloom is hoping to radically alter people's normal approach to data. As Bloom quotes tech publishing pioneer Tim O'Reilly on its Web site, "People think of data visualization as output, and the insight that I think [Bloom has had] is that data visualization will become a means of input and control...Being able to manipulate data in real-time is an important shift. Data visualizations would then become interfaces rather than reports."
Today, Bloom--which recently scored funding from Betaworks, SV Angel, and Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield--launched its first iPad app, Planetary. Designed to radically change the way users approach their music collections, is it also the company's first serve in what could be some very interesting potential partnerships with services like iTunes and any other that has plenty of data but no visually interesting way to present it.
The company was founded by four people with many years spent in leading design and user experience businesses. Among them is the company's president, Ben Cerveny, one of Flickr's earliest employees, who also has worked for companies like Stamen Design, frogdesign, and others.
Last week, Cerveny sat down with CNET for a 45 Minutes on IM interview to talk about Planetary, and about how Bloom hopes to use its visualization "instruments" to change the way people experience and feel about data.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I guess we should start with the name of the company, Bloom. Where does that come from? Ben Cerveny: My pleasure, thanks for having me. So, we deal with data every day in our daily lives. It flows around us but we don't always know it's there. But really, data is beautiful stuff: all sorts of mesmerizing structures and patterns. At Bloom, we'll make the invisible data visible. We'll make it Bloom.
You're launching with Planetary. Explain briefly what it does, for those who aren't already familiar with it? Cerveny: Planetary is a beautiful new way to explore your own music collection on your iPad. We present your collection of tunes as a galaxy, where artists are stars orbited by album planets, and each moon of the planet is a track that you can tap to play the song through a seamless connection with the native iPad music player. By using intuitive gestures, you can move between artists, create new constellations of music, and compose incredible scenes generated entirely by your own musical tastes. … Read more