• A decade of Yelp review trends

    July 25, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Yelp trends

    Yelp released an amusing tool that lets you see how the use of word in reviews has changed over the site's decade of existence.

    From food trends to popular slang to short-lived beauty fads (Brazilian blowout anyone?), Yelp Trends searches through words used in Yelp reviews to show you what's hot and reveals the trend-setting cities that kicked it all off. Our massive wealth of data and the high quality reviews contributed by the Yelp community are what allow us to surface consumer trends and behavior based on ten years of experiences shared by locals around the world.

    Just type in keywords, select your city, business category, and click the search button to see the changes. For the less used words, the data looks mostly like noise, but there are also some clear trends like in craft beer and chicken and waffles.

  • Senator John Walsh plagiarism, color-coded

    July 25, 2014  |  Infographics

    John Walsh plagiarism

    John Walsh, the U.S. Senator from Montana, is in the news lately for plagiarizing a large portion of his final paper towards his master's degree. The New York Times highlighted the portions that Walsh copied without attribution (red) and the portions he copied with improper attribution (yellow). About a third of the paper was just straight up lifted from others' works, including the final recommendations and conclusion, which is basically the grand finale.

    See also: Visualizing Plagiarism by Gregor Aisch, which shows the plagiarized PhD thesis of Germany's former Minister of Defense.

  • Editing photos as if they were audio files

    July 23, 2014  |  Data Art

    paris-echo

    Masuma Ahuja and Denise Lu for the Washington Post applied a technique called databending to a bunch of photos. The idea is that computer files — even though they represent different things like documents, images, and audio — encode data in one form or another. It's just that sound files encode beats, notes, and rhythms, whereas image files encode hue, saturation, and brightness. So when you treat image files as if they were audio, you get some interesting results.

    See Jamie Boulton's post from a couple of years ago for a detailed description on how to do this yourself with Audacity Effects.

  • Voter approval rates as butt plugs

    July 23, 2014  |  Data Art

    From a couple of years ago, but still relevant, I think. Matthew Epler took candidate approval ratings (again, this is from a little while ago), tossed them in a 3-D program, made the molds to match, and poured in some silicon. Boom. Butt plugs that represent data. It's called Grand Old Party.

    Epler describes his project best:

    Grand Old Party demonstrates that as a people united, our opinion has real volume. When we approve of a candidate, they swell with power. When we deem them unworthy, they are diminished and left hanging in the wind. We guard the gate! It opens and closes at our will. How wide is up to us.

    So true.

  • Misery index based on perceived temperature

    July 22, 2014  |  Mapping

    Misery index

    Late last year, Cameron Beccario made a wind map for earth, inspired by an earlier work by Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg. Beccario has been slowly adding overlays to the piece to show more dimensions of weather data around the world. The most recent overlay is what he calls a Misery Index, which is based on perceived air temperature.

    If you've seen the interactive globe already, it's worth revisiting. Click on the earth label on the bottom left to see the new stuff.

  • Flights around Ukraine

    July 18, 2014  |  Mapping

    Avoiding Ukraine

    The New York Times is covering Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 with a series of maps. The ones above show a sample of recent flights in the area. Some airlines, such as British Airways and Air France show a clear path around Ukraine, whereas others take a more direct route.

  • Geologic map of Mars

    July 18, 2014  |  Mapping

    The USGS released a more detailed geologic map of Mars, not just renderings based on rough models.

    The USGS-led mapping effort reveals that the Martian surface is generally older than previously thought. Three times as much surface area dates to the first major geologic time period - the Early Noachian Epoch - than was previously mapped. This timeframe is the earliest part of the Noachian Period, which ranges from about 4.1 to about 3.7 billion years ago, and was characterized by high rates of meteorite impacts, widespread erosion of the Martian surface and the likely presence of abundant surface water.

    Nice.

  • Spiky betting odds during LeBron James decision

    July 17, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Cleveland betting odds

    LeBron James decided to head back to Cleveland, so naturally the odds that they win the championship went up. Todd Schneider charted the betting odds as the announcement happened to see how much they went up.

    Of course that 10% already had built in some likelihood that James would choose to play for the Cavaliers next season. Before Cleveland was considered a threat to land LeBron, their championship odds were around 2%, so the 10% Cleveland odds immediately before LeBron’s decision perhaps reflected market expectations that LeBron had a 50% chance of choosing Cleveland: 0.5 * 0.18 + 0.5 * 0.02 = 0.1

    Houston, who was expected to pick up Chris Bosh if James went to Cleveland, also saw a spike during the announcement, but the odds quickly came back down once Bosh decided to re-sign with Miami.

  • How much underwear to bring on a trip

    July 16, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Underwear to bring on a trip

    Packing underwear for a short trip is easy. You just pack a pair for each day you're away. However, longer trips require extra planning. Pack a pair for every day, and you get a bag that's too heavy. Pack too few and you have to launder your dirties more often.

    Reed Kennedy and Carrie Smith gave this problem some extra thought, in search for the ideal underwear count, given the number of days you leave. The result is the chart above.

    Simply select your trip length on the top, and then move down to find your ideal underwear count. The numbers inside the grid cells indicate how many times you have to launder. Gold numbers indicate a perfect remainder of zero pairs of clean underwear by the time you get home.

    Note: This chart assumes you do not turn your underwear inside out for another wearing. Not that'd I've ever done that.

    See the full post for further dirty underwear details.

  • Changing World Cup fans

    July 13, 2014  |  Infographics

    World Cup fans

    Shan Carter and Kevin Quealy for the Upshot have a look at sports fandom once again using Facebook usage as a proxy. This time they examined shifting fan support during the World Cup.

    A new analysis by Facebook's data science team analyzed migrations of fan support from one country to another throughout the tournament, stage by stage. It's based partly on the contents of people's posts, which means it is largely a reflection of the views of people who follow the World Cup at least to some degree. In the chart above showing global opinion, Brazil, the U.S. and Mexico have a strong influence on the results, because of their size, Facebook population and high interest in the World Cup.

    Keep in mind World Cup posts for a specific country aren't counted once that team dropped from the tournament. So it's not so much shifting fandom as it is who people rooted for during each round.

    Be sure to check out the whole article to see how fandom shifted by country. (Congrats, Germany.)

  • Mosquitos: The deadliest animal

    July 11, 2014  |  Infographics

    Biggest Killers

    This graphic from the Gates Foundation is from a few months ago, but it was just National Mosquito Control Awareness Week. The small illustrations in this case make the graphic. Although I'm interested in seeing those "wide error margins."

  • FoamTree: Visualize hierarchical data with a lot of groups

    July 10, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    For small-ish amounts of hierarchical data, most JavaScript libraries can handle the load. However, it gets tricky when you get into hundreds and thousands of levels and groups. FoamTree is a library that helps you with this problem.

    FoamTree

    It's a Voronoi Treemap, which sure, looks kind of neat, but the nice part is how well it handles large amounts of groups. It's puts off computation and rendering until it's needed, so it cuts down on load and run times. Just check out the Tree of Life demo and select "Homo sapiens" in the ride sidebar to see how it works.

    The library is free to download, but you have to pay a license fee to get rid of the branding.

  • xkcd: Dominant players in chess and basketball

    July 9, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Dominant players by xkcd

    I'm pretty sure xkcd is the only one who gets away with showing player ratings for both basketball and chess players in the same frame, without the y-axis labels. And somehow it seems logical.

  • Birth year and political leanings

    July 8, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    How Birth Year Influences Political Views

    A statistical model, from Yair Ghitza of Catalist and Andrew Gelman of Columbia University, estimates when people form their political preferences. The analysis uses presidential approval ratings from Gallup to approximate political events "that estimates when people form their political preferences."

    Amanda Cox for the Upshot demonstrates the model in an interactive. Simply drag the slider to see how the political leanings of you and your birth cohort changed over time. The takeaway: Events between the ages of 18 to 24 are far more influential than those that occur at an older age.

    It seems like the model might apply to a lot of things in life.

  • Whaling in Japan explained

    July 8, 2014  |  Infographics

    Whaling

    After a ruling by the United Nations International Court of Justice, Japan was ordered to stop whaling in parts of Antarctica. However, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently sees the whaling practice differently. Adolfo Arranz for the South China Morning Post explains in a detailed graphic. Above is only about a third of it, so be sure to click through for the full version.

  • Test your geographic knowledge in Google map game

    July 7, 2014  |  Mapping

    Smarty Pins

    Smarty Pins is a simple, fun map game by Google. You get a trivia clue about some location, and the goal is to drop the pin as close as you can to the correct place. You start with 1,000 miles, and you get docked each time for how far your choice was from the actual location.

    For more on how little you know about where stuff is, see also the state matching game and the Mercator map puzzle.

  • Data trails explainer

    July 3, 2014  |  Infographics

    We produce data all the time, everywhere we go, and this process implies something about how we live. Jer Thorp explains in this short explainer video animated by Erica Gorochow.

  • Filing cabinet follows people around, like a data trail

    July 3, 2014  |  Data Art

    Jaap de Maat, a graduate student at the Royal College of Art, rigged a filing cabinet to follow people around for his final project. It reminds people of the data traces we leave behind. It's called I know what you did last summer.

    It is physically impossible for the human brain to remember every event from our past in full detail. The default setting is to forget and our memories are constructed based on our current values. In the digital age it has become easier to look back with great accuracy. But this development contains hidden dangers, as those stored recollections can easily be misinterpreted and manipulated. That sobering thought should rule our online behaviour, because the traces we leave behind now will follow us around for ever.

    See more details on Wired.

  • Data Cuisine uses food as the medium

    July 2, 2014  |  Data Art

    Unemployed

    Ditch the computer screen for your data. It's all about the food. Moritz Stefaner and prozessagenten, process by art and design ran a second round of the Data Cuisine workshop to explore how food can be used as a medium to communicate data. Naturally, you've got your basic visual cues, but when you introduce food, you open lots more possibilities.

    [W]e have all kinds of sculptural 3D possibilities. We can work with taste — from the basic tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami to complex combinations or hotness. There is texture — immensely important in cooking! Then we have all the cultural connotations of ingredients and dishes (potatoes, caviar, …). We can work with cooking parameters (e.g. baking temperature or duration). Or the temperature of the dish itself, when served!

    The above shows piece of bread shows youth unemployment in Spain. See more data dishes here.

  • NSA programs with goofy names

    July 1, 2014  |  Infographics

    NSA programs matrix

    Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson for ProPublica made a chart of NSA programs revealed in the past year. Programs were plotted subjectively from foreign to domestic surveillance on the horizontal axis and targeted to bulk surveillance on the vertical. So you get more controversial the further you move up towards the top right corner.

    Interesting stuff.

    The best part though is the goofy program names, as illustrated by Alberto Cairo. ParanoidSmurf and his siblings Nosey, Tracker, and Dreamy; EgotisticalGoat and EgotisticalGiraffe; WillowVixen. First off, who names these programs? And second, how do I get in on the naming action (without becoming creepy)?

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