• 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)?

  • Bass Shapes visualizes sound in hand-drawn style

    June 30, 2014  |  Data Art

    BassShapes

    Media artist Nick Hardeman's audio visualization app Bass Shapes was rejected by the Mac App Store because "it's not useful." So Hardeman released the software as a free OS X download instead. It's a beauty.

    The app takes in sound input from your microphone or an external audio source through Soundflower (also free), and the visuals come to life. Watching Bass Shapes, you'd swear that you were seeing a custom, hand-drawn animation that served as some kind of old-school-ish intro to an animated film. But you'd be wrong.

    Download Bass Shapes and try it yourself.

  • Visualizing algorithms

    June 30, 2014  |  Visualization

    Starry Night sampled

    Mike Bostock, who you might recognize from such things as Data-Driven Documents or the New York Times, writes on the value of visualizing algorithms for entertaining, teaching, learning, and debugging.

    Algorithms are a fascinating use case for visualization. To visualize an algorithm, we don’t merely fit data to a chart; there is no primary dataset. Instead there are logical rules that describe behavior. This may be why algorithm visualizations are so unusual, as designers experiment with novel forms to better communicate. This is reason enough to study them.

    But algorithms are also a reminder that visualization is more than a tool for finding patterns in data. Visualization leverages the human visual system to augment human intellect: we can use it to better understand these important abstract processes, and perhaps other things, too.

    At the very least, you'll have fun scrolling through the animated visuals that show how various algorithms work, but read the whole thing. It's good.

  • Super MIDI

    June 30, 2014  |  Visualization

    Watch the notes rain down on those piano keys. Made with MIDItrail, a MIDI player with a 3-d visualization component. The program (and this video) has been around for a while, but it's new to me.

    Do people still make MIDIs? Before MP3s were a thing I downloaded and played more MIDI files than I care to admit.

  • Real-time lightning map

    June 26, 2014  |  Mapping

    Lightning map

    Blitzortung is a community of volunteers who install inexpensive lightning sensors and transmit their data to a central server. In return, those who run the sensors have access to the network's data. The map that runs on the site shows the data in near real-time, providing a view of lightning strikes around the world. Pretty neat that this exists.

  • Detailed UK census data browser

    June 26, 2014  |  Mapping

    DataShine

    DataShine Census provides a detailed view into United Kingdom 2011 census data. Population, housing, income, commute, and other variables are available.

    The DataShine mapping platform is an output from an ESRC Future Research Leaders Project entitled "Big Open Data: Mining and Synthesis". The overall project seeks promote and develop the use of large and open datasets amongst the social science community. A key part of this initiative is the visualisation of these data in new and informative ways to inspire new uses and generate insights. Phase one has been to create the mapping platform with data from the 2011 Census. The next phases will work on important issues such as representing the uncertainty inherent in many population datasets and also developing tools that will enable the synthesis of data across multiple sources.

    They're off to a good start.

  • New York City taxi trips mapped

    June 23, 2014  |  Mapping

    NYC taxi data artifacts

    While we're on the topic of NYC taxi data, Eric Fischer for Mapbox mapped all 187 million trips. Each observation contains the start and end location of a trip, so blue dots represent the former and orange represent the latter. My favorite bit is on the data collection artifacts, such as the map above.

    The patterns at JFK and LaGuardia airports show interesting artifacts of the data collection process. Almost all of the trips there must have really begun or ended right at the terminals, but many of them are attributed to the roads leading to and from the airports, where the last good GPS fix must have occurred.

    See also the New York Times animated map from several years ago that shows taxi activity during days of the week.

  • Drone crash database

    June 23, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Drone crash database

    Based on data compiled from a combination of military records, Defense Department records, and drone manufacturers, Emily Chow, Alberto Cuadra and Craig Whitlock for the Washington Post provide a quick view into drone crashes.

    More than 400 large U.S. military drones crashed in major accidents worldwide between Sept. 11, 2001, and December 2013. By reviewing military investigative reports and other records, The Washington Post was able to identify 194 drone crashes that fell into the most severe category: Class A accidents that destroyed the aircraft or caused (under current standards) at least $2 million in damage.

    The top row represents where a drone crashed, the second row who owns it, and the third tells the type. Mouse over any of the tick marks, and you get details for the corresponding crash.

  • Clubs that connect World Cup national teams

    June 22, 2014  |  Network Visualization

    Clubs that connect the World Cup by NYT

    Gregor Aisch for the New York Times explored how the soccer clubs that play all year connect the national teams in this year's World Cup.

    The best national teams come together every four years, but the global tournament is mostly a remix of the professional leagues that are in season most of the time. Three out of every four World Cup players play in Europe, and the top clubs like Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United have players from one end of the globe to the other.

    My browser buckled a few times as I scrolled, but even without smooth transitions, it's an interesting dive into player connections.

  • Watch the U.S. population center shift west

    June 19, 2014  |  Mapping

    Shifting population

    According to the U.S. census, the mean center of the population shifted west every decade since 1790. They show the change in a simple animation.

    The mean center of population, traditionally referred to as simply the center of population, is provided for the 2010 Census and each census since 1790. In 2010, the mean center of population was located at 37°31'03" North latitude, 92°10'23" West longitude in Texas County, Missouri, 2.7 miles northeast of Plato, Missouri.

    The inclination might be to read this as people moving west, which is partially true, but don't forget immigration increasing the populations too.

  • Percentage of degrees conferred to men, by major

    June 18, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Based on estimates from the National Center for Education Statistics, Randy Olson plotted the percentage of bachelor degrees conferred to men in the United States, by major. Start your eyes at the 50% line and work your way up (more men) or down (more women).

    Percentage of bachelor degrees to men, by major

    See also the inverted version that shows the percentage of degrees conferred to women.

  • Employment-to-population ratios

    June 17, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Employment-to-population ratios

    The Upshot posted an interesting chart that shows changing employment rate by state.

    It shows that the economy is improving. Employment rates have climbed above the post-recession nadir in every state, although the improvements are often quite small. In Mississippi, the employment rate is just 0.1 percent above its recent low.

    It also shows that the recovery has a long way to go. Employment rates have rebounded in some states with strong growth, like Utah, Nebraska and Montana. But only three states — Maine, Texas and Utah — have retraced more than half their losses.

    You usually see this data presented as a time series chart, but this graphic focuses on three points of interest: employment rate at the start of the recession, the lowest rate, and the current. The rate is presented on the horizontal axis, so you see a cane-like shape that represents how far each state fell and how much farther they have to go.

    I like this one. See the full graphic here.

  • OpenGeofiction, the creation of an imaginary and realistic world

    June 16, 2014  |  Mapping

    Opengeofiction

    Sharing the same collaborative principles as OpenStreetMap, a wiki-based map for the real world, OpenGeofiction is an experiment in mapping an imaginary world.

    Opengeofiction is a collaborative platform for the creation of fictional maps.

    Opengeofiction is based on the Openstreetmap software platform. This implies that all map editors and other tools suitable for Openstreetmap can be applied to Opengeofiction as well.

    The fictional world of Opengeofiction is thought to be in modern times. So it doesn't have orcs or elves, but rather power plants, motorways and housing projects. But also picturesque old towns, beautiful national parks and lonely beaches.

    As you zoom in to the map, you can see many details, from roads, bodies of water, to greenery, have already been added. Some areas look like densely inhabited cities connected by highway, whereas others are miles of forest and nature.

    Winburgh-Willhed-Wearhead

    Browse long enough and you forget you're looking at a fake world.

  • What separates here from there

    June 13, 2014  |  Infographics

    New Scientist quickly covers three theories of space and time in an informational video.

  • A visual analysis of the Boston subway system

    June 11, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Visualizing MBTA Data

    For a graduate project, Michael Barry and Brian Card explored the Boston subway system through a set of annotated interactives that show train routes, usage, and scheduling.

    Through publicly available data, we have the tools to understand the subway system better than we ever have before. We have seen how the system operates on a daily basis, how people use the system, how that affects the trains and also how this ties back to your daily commute. To see a real-time version of this data, check out mbta.meteor.com for up-to-the-minute congestion and delay information.

    I like how they keep a subway map in view throughout. It helps you efficiently figure out what each chart means and is a good common factor as you move through the facets.

  • Mercator projection with pole shifted to where you live

    June 9, 2014  |  Mapping

    Extreme Mercator

    Drew Roos made a thing that lets you move the poles of the Mercator projection to anywhere in the world.

    As you probably know, map projections all have their pros and cons since there are challenges that come with transforming a globe onto a two-dimensional surface. The Mercator projection, one of the most well-known, distorts as you approach the poles. The scale approaches infinity actually, which is why we're used to seeing a Greenland that is bigger than Africa. (It's not.)

    Above shows the pole shifted to Washington, D.C. Trippy.

  • Jobs recovery and loss, by industry

    June 5, 2014  |  Infographics

    Recession reshapes

    Jeremy Ashkenas and Alicia Parlapiano for The Upshot just plopped this interactive sucker on to the web. Each line shows change in job count for an industry. Horizontally, they're organized by average salary, and vertically, they're organized by relative change since the end of the recession. Green represents growth and red represents decline.

    My initial reaction was along the lines of what-the-heck, but then you see the axes and get the mouseover actions for details. Scroll down, and you get highlighted subsets. By the end, you've learned something.

  • NFL players getting bigger

    June 5, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Football players are getting bigger. Noah Veltman, a developer for the WNYC Data News team, shows by how much through an animated heatmap. Scrub the slider back and forth quickly for maximum effect.

    Height and weight of NFL players

    In the beginning, the league clustered in the bottom left. No one was over 300 pounds, and everyone was 6 feet and 4 inches tall or shorter. These days, player height weight are spread out more and shifted towards the top right.

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