Columbia University media innovator to speak at Smith College

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Columbia University Professor of Journalism and media innovator Mark Hansen will soon speak at Smith College about the need to aggregate the data practices from science, the humanities, art and design under a single umbrella: data science.

The lecture, titled “Information Performance,” will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 12, in Ford Hall on the Smith campus, in celebration of 2013 as the International Year of Statistics.  It is free and open to the public.

“In this talk, I will take a broad view of data and explore their use in creative practices,” said Hansen, who is director of the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia. “I will present a selection of work from my artistic collaborations over the last decade—from a permanent display in the lobby of the New York Times building to a performance designed as part of the New York Public Library’s centennial celebration last June. I will tie these artworks to a larger movement in which data and data processing are seeping into almost every academic discipline on campus.”

Watch Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin's "Listening Post" installation.

Hansen works with data in an essentially journalistic practice, crafting stories through algorithm, computation and visualization. He joined Columbia Journalism School in July of 2012, after a decade of shuttling between the west and east coasts.

In Los Angeles, he held appointments in the Department of Statistics, the Department of Design Media Arts and the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. There he was a leader in establishing the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Center devoted to the study of sensor networks. While in New York, Hansen was a long-standing visiting researcher at the New York Times R&D Lab and a consultant with HBO Sports.

In addition to his technical work, Hansen also has an active art practice involving the presentation of data for the public. His work with Ben Rubin at EAR Studio has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, the London Science Museum, the Cartier Foundation in Paris, and the lobby of the New York Times building (permanent display) in Manhattan. Hansen holds a PhD and MA in Statistics from the University of California, Berkeley and a BS in Applied Math from the University of California, Davis. His blog can be found at

The talk is organized by the Five College Statistics Program, and co-sponsored by Athena Health, the Boston Chapter of the American Statistical Association as well as the Smith College Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Based in Amherst, Massachusetts, Five Colleges, Inc., is a nonprofit educational consortium created in 1965 to advance the extensive educational and cultural objectives of its member institutions—Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.