• Google opens up Public Data Explorer to your data

    February 17, 2011  |  Online Applications

    Public data explorer

    With Google's recent data-related offerings, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that they've opened up their Public Data Explorer so that you can upload your own data. Previously, it was only available when you searched for something like "GDP" and a related dataset was supplied by an official provider.

    [W]e’re opening the Public Data Explorer to your data. We’re making a new data format, the Dataset Publishing Language (DSPL), openly available, and providing an interface for anyone to upload their datasets. DSPL is an XML-based format designed from the ground up to support rich, interactive visualizations like those in the Public Data Explorer. The DSPL language and upload interface are available in Google Labs.

    In terms of visualization, there's isn't anything new. You've got your maps, bar charts, and time series line charts, with the checkboxes on the left (like the snapshot below). Then there's the chart types available via the charting API.
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  • Find more of the data you need with DataMarket

    January 31, 2011  |  Data Sources, Online Applications

    Add another online destination to find the data that you need. DataMarket launched back in May with Icelandic data, but just a few days ago relaunched with data of the international variety. They tout 100 million time series datasets and 600 million facts. I'm not totally sure what that means (100 million lines, sets of lines?), but I take it that means a lot.

    Just over 2 years and countless cups of coffee after we started coding, DataMarket.com launches with international data. You can now find, visualize and download data from many of the world’s most important data providers on our site.

    At first glance DataMarket feels a lot like now defunct Swivel. Search for the data you want and you get back a list of datasets. The focus on only time series though is actually a plus in that they can provide more specific tools to visualize and explore. The current toolset isn't going to blow you away, but it's not bad.
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  • This Tract provides a view of Census data on your block

    January 6, 2011  |  Online Applications

    Tract map

    This Tract, by Michal Migurski of Stamen, with some help from Craig Mod, lets you view details of your block by way of Census data. It's still using 2000 data but was built in anticipation of the 2010 release, which should come in a couple of months. So we'll probably see some improvements from now until then.

    Enter your location or browse the slippy map for information on race, income, gender, education, age, and housing. There are also aggregates for your Census tract, county, state, and country.
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  • Search how phrases have been used via Google Ngram Viewer

    December 20, 2010  |  Online Applications

    Ngram - kindergarten

    Language changes. Culture changes. And we can see some of these changes via what authors write about in books over the years. Google's Book Ngram Viewer lets you search through this data, and shows a graph similar similar to the output of Google Trends. The above is the trends for nursery school, kindergarten, and child care:

    This shows trends in three ngrams from 1950 to 2000: "nursery school" (a 2-gram or bigram), "kindergarten" (a 1-gram or unigram), and "child care" (another bigram). What the y-axis shows is this: of all the bigrams contained in our sample of books written in English and published in the United States, what percentage of them are "nursery school" or "child care"? Of all the unigrams, what percentage of them are "kindergarten"? Here, you can see that use of the phrase "child care" started to rise in the late 1960s, overtaking "nursery school" around 1970 and then "kindergarten" around 1973. It peaked shortly after 1990 and has been falling steadily since.

    Find anything interesting?
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  • Advanced visualization without programming – Impure

    December 2, 2010  |  Online Applications

    Color map

    Programming can be tough in the beginning, which can make advanced visualization beyond the Excel spreadsheet hard to come by. Bestiario tries to make it easier with their most recent creation Impure:

    Impure is a visual programming language aimed to gather, process and visualize information. With impure is possible to obtain information from very different sources; from user owned data to diverse feeds in internet, including social media data, real time or historical financial information, images, news, search queries and many more.

    It's not a plug-and-play application, but it's not scripting in a text editor either. Think of it as somewhere in between that (hence the visual programming language). They've taken the logic behind code, and encapsulated them into modules or structures, and you can piece them together like a puzzle. The interface kind of reminds me of Yahoo Pipes.
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  • Find the names in your data with Mr. People

    November 8, 2010  |  Online Applications

    Inspired by Shan Carter's simple data converter, appropriately named Mr. Data Converter, Matthew Ericson just put Mr. People online. The tool lets you paste a list of names, and it will parse the first and last name, suffix, title, and other parts for you. You can even have multiple names in a single row.

    Years ago, while trying to clean up the names of donors in campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission, I hacked together a Perl module — loosely based on the Lingua-EN-NameParse module — to standardize names. One port to Ruby later, I've finally put together a Web front end for it.

    Getting data in the right format, whether for analysis or visualization, can be a huge pain. Imagine. All the data you need is right in front of you, but you can't do anything with it yet, because as often is the case, it's not in a nice and pretty rectangular format. So anything that makes this easier and quicker is an instant bookmark for me.

    [Mr. People via @mericson]

  • How people in your area spend money

    October 28, 2010  |  Online Applications

    San Francisco spending

    The personal finance site Mint aggregates spending data from four million users. At the individual level, Mint is useful in that it brings all of your finances into one place. Zoom out and aggregate, and you have spending for a city or a state. This is what Mint Data does.
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  • Find your flight via visual interface

    October 21, 2010  |  Misc. Visualization, Online Applications

    hipmunk flight search

    Booking flights became so much easier when it all shifted online, but it hasn't changed in years. You put in your preferred dates and times and you get a long list of options. Oftentimes those listings can be a pain as you browse through all of your options. Oh the burden of choice. Hipmunk tries to make flight search easier with a visual interface.

    As usual, you enter your origin and destination but instead of plain HTML tables, you get something like the above, and you can sort the options from least to greatest amount of agony. Rectangle lengths represent flight times and are color-coded by airline. Flights with the same take off and arrival times, but priced higher are hidden to help you narrow down quicker.

    Hipmunk is still in the early stages, but a quick search shows a lot of promise.

    [Hipmunk via Matt]

  • How K-12 schools in your area measure up

    October 13, 2010  |  Mapping, Online Applications

    Education scorecard - how does this district compare

    In collaboration with NBC News and The Gates Foundation, Ben Fry-headed Fathom Design shows you how K-12 schools measure up in your area. If you're a parent or soon-to-be parent considering a move, this will be especially interesting to you. The Education Nation Scorecard lets you search for your location or a specific school to see how they perform and how they compare to the rest of the country.
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  • Graph and explore your Gmail inbox

    September 14, 2010  |  Online Applications, Self-surveillance

    Graph your inbox

    Your email says a lot about who you are, who you interact with, and what you're up to at any given time. Maybe it's receipts from that online travel site or notifications from Facebook. There are lots of tidbits you can extract from your inbox. But how? PhD candidate Bill Zeller provides you with Graph Your Inbox.
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  • Simple data converter from Excel

    September 6, 2010  |  Online Applications, Statistics

    If you've ever created an interactive graphic or anything else that requires that you feed in data, you will love this barebones data conversion tool by Shan Carter. Copy and paste data from Excel, which I feel like I've done a billion times, and then take your pick from Actionscript, JSON, XML, and Ruby. Simple, but a potential time saver. [via]

  • Stack Overflow for data geeks

    July 6, 2010  |  Online Applications

    I can't count how many times I've googled a programming-related question and found myself at Stack Overflow, the question and answer site for programmers. MetaOptimize is like a Stack Overflow for data geeks:

    You and other data geeks can ask and answer questions on machine learning, natural language processing, artificial intelligence, text analysis, information retrieval, search, data mining, statistical modeling, and data visualization.

    Here you can ask and answer questions, comment and vote for the questions of others and their answers. Both questions and answers can be revised and improved. Questions can be tagged with the relevant keywords to simplify future access and organize the accumulated material.

    Those with some data munging under their belt might find MetaOptimize useful. If you're a n00b, you might want to stick to the FD forums.

    [Thanks, John]

  • Facebook users who don’t know they are sharing

    May 17, 2010  |  Online Applications

    I'm pretty sure all this Facebook stuff will blow over soon enough. Most people have changed their privacy settings by now. The rest don't really care. Some people though simply have no clue that what they're sharing with their inner circle is out on display for anyone to see. Openbook uses the Facebook search API to show these users. Search for a term or phrase and see the status updates of public profiles.
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  • Build Online Visualization for Free with Tableau Public

    Tableau Software, popular for making data more accessible, mainly in the business sector, just opened up with Tableau Public. The application is similar in spirit to other online data applications like Many Eyes and Swivel. It lets you share data and visualizations online. However, Tableau Public doesn't have a central portal or a place to browse data. Rather it's focused on letting you explore data and stitch modules together on your desktop and then embed your findings on a website or blog.
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  • Build Statistical Graphics Online With ggplot2

    Statisticians are generally behind the times when it comes to online applications. There are a lot out-dated Java applets and really rough attempts at getting R, a statistical computing environment, in some useful form through a browser. So imagine my surprise when I tried this tool by Jeroen Ooms, a visiting scholar at UCLA Statistics.

    It actually works pretty well, and for a prototype, it isn't half bad.
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  • Nebul.us Shows You Your Activity on the Web

    December 8, 2009  |  Online Applications, Self-surveillance

    Nebul.us is an online application, currently in private beta, that aggregates and visualizes your online activity. Enter your information for Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc and install a plugin in Firefox to record your browsing behavior. Get something that looks like the above, sort of a donut-polar area chart hybrid. Nebul.us calls it a cloud.
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  • Data Interface Iterations: Designing webtrendmap.com’s Stacks

    September 30, 2009  |  Online Applications

    545-stacks

    This is a guest post by Craig Mod, who collaborated with Information Architects, to develop Web Trend Map. The site, which is largely inspired by iA's previous work, lets you curate links with sources you trust. This post describes the multiple iterations and decisions made during the design process.

    Design and development of webtrendmap.com v1.0 took three months. During this period the interaction design and interface underwent countless subtle permutations. What we ended up with is almost totally unlike what we started with. There was a lot of painful iteration. A lot of gut wrenching backtracking.

    Let's drill down and take a look at how we iterated on one key webtrendmap.com visual element: the Stack. Continue Reading

  • Collect Data About Yourself with Twitter – your.flowingdata is Live

    July 15, 2009  |  Online Applications, Projects

    your.flowingdata (YFD), a Twitter application that lets you collect data about yourself, is now LIVE!

    I feel like I've been working on this project forever, but it's finally at a place where I think it's ready for human consumption. And unlike the previous version, what you track is completely up to you.
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  • Google Fusion Tables Helps You Visualize and Manage Your Data

    June 11, 2009  |  Online Applications

    As the newest release from Google Labs, Fusion Tables is a tool that aims to make your data more accessible.

    Today we're introducing Google Fusion Tables on Labs, an experimental system for data management in the cloud. It draws on the expertise of folks within Google Research who have been studying collaboration, data integration, and user requirements from a variety of domains. Fusion Tables is not a traditional database system focusing on complicated SQL queries and transaction processing. Instead, the focus is on fusing data management and collaboration: merging multiple data sources, discussion of the data, querying, visualization, and Web publishing.

    Google Spreadsheets + phpMyAdmin

    Fusion Tables will feel familiar to those of you who use Google Spreadsheets, but the use is somewhat different.

    Where Spreadsheets is meant to mimic much of the feel of MIcrosoft Excel, Fusion Tables is somewhere in the middle between Excel and database (or at least it hopes to be eventually). You can filter data as well as merge your datasets with others, for example, by country.

    Maybe the best way to describe Fusion Tables is a cross between Google Docs and phpMyAdmin, which is a user interface into a MySQL database.

    Visualization Options

    Probably of most interest are the visualization options. They're what you're used to seeing with line, pie, and bars, all looking very Google-y. The new ones to check out: motion chart and intensity map (above). There's also a regular point mapping option. Again, we've seen these visualizations before, but Fusion Tables is trying to make it easier to use them.

    What do you think of Google's new offering? GIve it a whirl with their sample tables, and come back here and let us know what you think in the comments below.

    [Thanks Andrew, NoodleGei, Oleks, and everyone else...]

  • Indieprojector Makes it Easy to Map Your Geographical Data

    May 21, 2009  |  Mapping, Online Applications

    Axis Maps recently released indieprojector, a new component to indiemapper, their in-development mapping project to "bring traditional cartography into the 21st century." Indieprojector lets you import KML and shapefiles and easily reproject your data into a selection of popular map projections. No longer do you have to live within the bounds of a map that makes Greenland look the same size as Africa. Continue Reading

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