Niche Media

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth more. The use of compelling media has been undergoing something of a revolution recently, driven by new social sites like YouTube. I like Salsa music, and found this clip of the Colombian band Guayacan (I think I saw these guys in Mexico City in 1997 – amazing act). If that’s a little too strong for your taste, here is another Colombian Salsa band
Grupo Niche. The YouTube science category has some cool robot clips.


One of the easiest ways to animate your results is images including GIF and PNG displayed sequentially, and if required in a continuous loop. Tools like ImageMagick generate these from multiple still images. Here is one of my early efforts using predictions of distribution of Swainson’s Flycatcher at each month of the year to display dynamic models of bird migration.


Animation of migration modeling of the Swainson’s Flycatcher in South America. It shows ‘niche following’ behavior, presence in a constant temperature zone in South America in relation to the sightings of the species.

In a more recent use of the same technology shows the potential course of invasion of the species Zebra Mussel (Dreissena) animated using the niche model in a process described in my upcoming book ‘Niche Modeling’.


This is a trend that could be used a lot more to get your message across. The latest buzzword is ‘viral media’ — a few minute elevator style presentation that grabs millions of eyeballs across the globe. For example, promoting books such as Chris Anderson’s in the Day of the Long Tail and Flash is used for Mike Levin’s breakthrough technology for bloggers HitTail.

Here is my attempt seven years ago to explain the importance of Museum collection to biodiversity modeling in The Living Collections. At that time a film production studio was needed to produce such videos.

Now, with technologies like Flash and iFilm the bar has dropped considerably. For an example of how much can be done to make your presentation dynamic with even simple tools like Powerpoint or Keynote on the Mac check out Skip Hardt’s SXIP Identity 2.0 demo.

Examples of ways niche media could be used to effect:

  • In presentations, show the effect of a change in a parameter on lines on a graph, instead of two graphs, fade out the first line and fade in the second line, then repeat.
  • Create 5 minute promotions;
  • Organize and display results according to ‘work flow’.

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