President Obama joined thousands today in marking the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center site in New York, laying his hands on a bronze memorial engraved with names of victims--a list arranged with the help of an algorithm.
The 2,983 names on 76 bronze panels surround two cascading pools of water where the towers stood, in architect Michael Arad's design "Reflecting Absence." In seemingly random fashion, the panels list those who died on September 11, 2001, as well as in the WTC bombing of February 26, 1993.
But the carefully thought-out memorial reflects the victims' complex web of relationships to one another--professional, social, and accidental. This was accomplished thanks to an algorithm created by data artist Jer Thorp working with New York design firm Local Projects.
Arad rejected arranging the names alphabetically or chronologically. The best way to set the names seemed to be one that wouldn't favor some people over others, so they're arranged according to groups and their relationships with one another. … Read more