The World's Best Spintop

By Melanie Bossert
The main idea of the project is to visualize statistical data, by translating it into an object's shape and behavior. The object in question is a spinning top, whose shape is generated out of countries' statistical data comprised of criteria such as Political Environment, Health, Education, Economic Dynamism and Quality of Life. The data used is taken from World Bank, WHO and CIA sources amongst others.
The statistical criteria are transformed into an algorithm that generates the structure of each spinning top. By determining structural parameters for physical stability through statistical data, each spinning top displays the functionality of the represented country.

In general, the goal of a spinning top is to spin around itself as long as possible. The movement of the toy is affected by its shape, volume and stability. The last factor is the most influential in the object's motion. This general principle of the spinning top is translated into an algorithm, that will in turn define the shape and the behavior of the project's object.
The motion of the top is determined in the following way. The factor of the "Political Participation" of the population affects the size of the top of the spin wheel, hence making it easier or harder to set in motion. The "Health" factor models the general shape of the top, thus affecting its balance.

The World's Best Spintop is part of the "Prototype: Exhibition in the Cloud" project, created out of the 2012 interdisciplinary collaboration between Parsons, The New School for Design New York and the University of the Arts Berlin. The show seeks to challenge and reinvent received notions of prototyping, extending its design and industrial origin to encompass artistic imagination. In November 2012 the "Prototype: Exhibition in the Cloud" was shown at the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Gallery in New York and continued as an affiliate program of the Transmediale and CTM Festival 2013 in Berlin.

The intention of the project "The World's Best Spintop" is to explore the possibilities of visualization of statistical data by translating it into an objects shape and behavior. The underlying idea of the project is to show that a simple toy can be used to demonstrate meaningful topics, which can be comprehended through the playing process.
The choice of using countries' world data is related to the spintop's characteristics. As mentioned previously, its goal is to spin around itself as long as possible, its movement being affected by its shape, volume and, most importantly, its stability. Similarly, on a country-level the socio-economic parameters are affected by the overall climate of stability.
How the algorithm works:
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