• Happy Turkey Day

    November 25, 2010  |  Data Underload

    Happy Thanksgiving Day!

    Happy Thanksgiving! Eat lots and lots and lots. Rest. Then eat more.

  • Spreadsheet Invasion

    November 24, 2010  |  Miscellaneous

    Spreadsheet invasion

    Something for you leading into the Thanksgiving weekend. Enjoy this short video (below) by Amy Thornley, which she made for smile for london. It was animated frame-by-frame in Excel. I look forward to when someone makes this an actual game. That way you could play it at the office, and it would look like you're working when you pause it.
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  • Crime Rates by State

    How to Make Bubble Charts

    Ever since Hans Rosling presented a motion chart to tell his story of the wealth and health of nations, there has been an affinity for proportional bubbles on an x-y axis. This tutorial is for the static version of the motion chart: the bubble chart.
  • Girl Talk mashup breakdown visualized

    November 23, 2010  |  Visualization

    girl talk mashup breakdown

    In case you missed it, Girl Talk recently released his fifth album All Day, which samples from 372 songs. Essentially, it's an album of mashups, so together, samples from multiple songs combine to make a single song. @brahn shows what samples are playing at any given time as you listen to the album. Press play, and the current samples highlight.

  • How Twitter users balanced the budget

    November 22, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    how twitter users balanced the budget

    In a follow-up to their puzzle to balance the budget, The New York Times shows the top selections that about seven thousand Twitter users made. It's not a scientific sample, as it's only Twitter users, but interesting to look at nevertheless with a number of useful breakdowns.

  • Evolution of the two-party vote during past century

    November 22, 2010  |  Mapping

    two-party vote map

    Political science PhD candidate David Sparks has look at the evolution of the two-party vote:

    Using county-level data, I spatially and temporally interpolated presidential vote returns for the two major party candidates in each election from 1920-2008. The result illuminates the sometimes gradual, sometimes rapid change in the geographic basis of presidential partisanship.

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  • Mapping human development in America

    November 19, 2010  |  Mapping

    Mapping the measure of America

    In work with the American Human Development Project, Rosten Woo and Zachary Watson map the Human Development Index, along with many other indicators in this thorough interactive.
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  • Target for charting excellence

    November 19, 2010  |  Design


    The scales for what qualifies as pretty and useful change depending on the application and purpose, but you always aim for the same quadrant. The best data graphics come from those who are able to find the right balance between aesthetics and utility.

  • A world of tweets

    November 18, 2010  |  Mapping

    A world of tweets

    We've seen this sort of thing before, with tweets mapped and such, but the recent A World of Tweets by Frog Design is nicely executed (in HTML5).

    A World of Tweets is all about playing with geography and bits of information. Simply put, A World of Tweets shows you where people are tweeting at from the past hour. The more tweets there are from a specific region, the "hotter" or redder it becomes.

    You can toggle between a few different views such as smokey or heatmap, or outline or satellite view, but the highlight has gotta be the 3d view. Unfortunately, I don't have any red and blue paper lens glasses on me. Dang it.

  • Defining neighborhoods with map scribbles

    November 18, 2010  |  Mapping


    TenderMaps brings an informal approach to highlighting the parts of neighborhoods:

    We wanted to move from the static and singular, toward more dynamic, subtle definitions of neighborhoods, definitions emphasizing the nuanced communities and personal experiences that really shape a neighborhood's boundaries. We wondered how we could we harness the implicit mental maps people actually use. What would happen if we defined a neighborhood by the way we moved though it, or by the places we loved in it?

    In this first iteration, the creators walked around the Tenderloin in San Francisco, and asked residents questions about their neighborhood and to sketch on a paper map. The sketches were scanned to make a browsable map, including backstories of each scribble.

    The proof of concept is still rough, and uber slow in Chrome, but it should be able to see how useful this might be. It's much more personal than the markers we are used to seeing and could be a way for non-tech people to see their community in a tech way.

    [TenderMaps via @zainy]

  • What generation do you belong to?

    November 17, 2010  |  Infographics

    Talkin bout your generation

    In this interactive, USA Today guesses your age, based on what influenced you as a teenager:

    The year you were born partly determines what generation you belong to, but so do your cultural experiences. The chart below shows the offset from birth years to one's teenage years — when people are most influenced by the world around them — and the music, movies, TV, news, fashion, technology, toys and sports of those eras.

    Simple and entertaining. I took the quiz twice, and it was different each time. It was one year off both times, so dead on when you take the average. What generation do you belong to?

    [USA Today]

  • R is the need-to-know stat software

    November 17, 2010  |  Software, Statistics

    This Forbes post on the greatness that is R is being passed around by every statistician and his mother today.

    It's not that this type of analysis wasn't possible before — statisticians have existed, and commercial software has been available to support them, for decades. The fact that R is free to use, free to modify, and its source is open to view, extend and improve means students, stock traders-in-training and fantasy football junkies can familiarize themselves with the software. They can write programs against it. They're likely to continue that usage into their professional lives. When they share their work, the community, down the line, benefits. And the virtuous cycle strengthens.

    What's your favorite (graphical) use of R?

  • Why network visualization is useful

    November 17, 2010  |  Network Visualization

    Network visusalization - Radial layout

    AT&T Labs' Infoviz research group describes network graphs and their many uses:

    There is information in the connections. A glance is enough to identify nodes with the most links, nodes straddling different subgroups, and nodes isolated by their lack of connections. Corporations might look at a graph to verify that marketing and sales are communicating, urban planners to monitor the interconnectedness, or isolation, of neighborhoods, biologists to discover interactions between genes, and network analysts to monitor security.

    And on aesthetics:

    Aesthetics is important not so much for looks—though some visualizations can be stunning to look at—but for readability. Links that intersect and nodes that overlay one another result in poor readability, and graph visualization programs work hard to minimize the number of link intersections and give enough whitespace around each node to make it stand out from its neighbors.

    [AT&T Labs via TomC]

  • Visualize This: Winning Wikipedia fundraiser banners

    November 16, 2010  |  Visualize This

    Wikipedia's annual fundraiser is in progress. If you haven't noticed already, when you go to the site, there's a banner on the top that asks for donations. A few weeks ago, Wikipedia tested four different banners (below) to see which one resulted in the most donations, and they just posted the data for the test (along with some others). Can you visualize this?
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  • Format and clean your data with Google Refine

    November 16, 2010  |  Software

    When we first learn how to deal with data in school, it's nicely formatted and fits perfectly into a rectangular spreadsheet. Then when we start to deal with real data, we find missing values, inconsistencies, and for some reason it doesn't plug straight into our software. What the heck?

    The caveman way to fix this problem is to open Excel and manually edit everything. Some ad hoc code can often fix your problems, but still that takes time and can be a pain. Google Refine, the Googley evolution of Freebase Gridworks, can help you.
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  • The very first NYT election map

    November 15, 2010  |  Mapping

    First NYT election map in 1896

    Matthew Ericson, deputy graphics director of The New York Times, dug through the archives to find the first occurrence of an election map in the paper, in 1896:

    The speed with which the results made it into print boggles the mind given the technology of the day (especially considering that in the last few elections in the 2000s, with all of the technology available to us, there have been a number of states that we haven’t been able to call in the Wednesday paper).

    What a beaut. That day, the paper cost 3 cents.

  • Learn the rules of data graphics so you can bend them

    November 15, 2010  |  Design

    If you take away anything from The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, make it the epilogue. This is the most important part:

    Design is choice. The theory of the visual display of quantitative information consists of principles that generate design options and that guide choices among options. The principles should not be applied rigidly or in a peevish spirit; they are not logically or mathematically certain; and it is better to violate any principle than to place graceless or inelegant marks on paper. Most principles of design should be greeted with some skepticism, for word authority can dominate our vision, and we may come to see only through the lenses of word authority rather than with our own eyes.

    When we first start out with data graphics, it is easy to read a list of rules about ratios, flourishes, and sizes, and then trick ourselves into believing that is all there is to it. But like cooking, writing, programming, painting, speaking, designing, sporting and numerous other things, you learn the basics first. The principles. And then you figure out what rules can bend and how far.

  • You fix the budget puzzle

    November 14, 2010  |  Infographics

    You fix the budget

    Not pleased with how the government is handling the budget and deficit? Fine. You fix it. The New York Times provides a budget puzzle:

    Today, you’re in charge of the nation’s finances. Some of your options have more short-term savings and some have more long-term savings. When you have closed the budget gaps for both 2015 and 2030, you are done. Make your own plan, then share it online.

    Choose wisely.

    [New York Times via @mrflip]

  • Comparison of Republican and Democratic tax plans

    November 12, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    Comparing Democratic and Republican tax plans

    Lori Montgomery of the The Washington Post reports on the difference between the Democratic and Republican tax plans.

    The Republicans' plan to extend the Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthy would cost $36.6 billion more than the Democrats' plan, which extends cuts only for families making less than $250,000 a year and individuals making less than $200,000.

    As you move down the chart, there are relatively small differences, until you hit the bottom. Medium circle. Huge circle.
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  • Algorithmic architecture with balls

    November 12, 2010  |  Data Art

    Algorithmic architecture

    Geometric Death Frequency-141 by Federico Diaz is an algorithm-based sculpture at MASS MoCA, made up of 420,000 robotically-placed black spheres.
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