• Public transit times in major cities

    January 27, 2014  |  Mapping

    Public transit travel time

    Last year, WNYC made an interactive map that shows transit times in New York, based on where you clicked. Geography graduate student Andrew Hardin expanded on the idea for San Francisco, Seattle, Boulder, and Denver, with additional options and more granular simulations.
    Continue Reading

  • Bird flight paths

    January 23, 2014  |  Data Art

    Dennis Hlynsky, an artist and a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, recorded videos of flying birds and in post-processing shows previous flight positions for less than a second. The results are beautiful. It's like the video version of long-exposure photography.

    This is just one video in the series. Also see this, this, and this. [via Colossal]

  • A century of passenger air travel

    January 22, 2014  |  Mapping

    Aviation for 100 years

    Kiln and the Guardian explored the 100-year history of passenger air travel, and to kick off the interactive is an interactive map that uses live flight data from FlightStats. The map shows all current flights in the air right now. Nice.

    Be sure to click through all the tabs. They're worth the watch and listen, with a combination of narration, interactive charts, and old photos.

    And of course, if you like this, you'll also enjoy Aaron Koblin's classic Flight Patterns.

  • Music timeline of plays and history

    January 17, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Music timeline

    Two Google research groups, Big Picture and Music Intelligence, got together and made a music timeline baby.

    The Music Timeline shows genres of music waxing and waning, based on how many Google Play Music users have an artist or album in their music library, and other data (such as album release dates). Each stripe on the graph represents a genre; the thickness of the stripe tells you roughly the popularity of music released in a given year in that genre. (For example, the "jazz" stripe is thick in the 1950s since many users' libraries contain jazz albums released in the '50s.) Click on the stripes to zoom into more specialized genres.

    As you'd expect, the initial view is a stacked area chart that represents the popularity of genres over time, which feels fairly familiar, but then you interact with the stacks and it gets more interesting and almost surprisingly fast. The best part is the pointers to specific albums as you mouse over.

  • Donald Duck family tree

    January 15, 2014  |  Network Visualization

    Donald Duck family tree

    The Donald Duck family tree is huge. Who knew? Above is only a sample. See the full version here.

  • Lexical distance between European languages

    January 14, 2014  |  Network Visualization

    Lexical distance

    Using data from linguistics research by Kostiantyn Tyshchenko, Teresa Elms clustered European languages in this network graph. If you look closely, you might wonder why English is considered a Germanic language. Elms explains:

    So why is English still considered a Germanic language? Two reasons. First, the most frequently used 80% of English words come from Germanic sources, not Latinate sources. Those famous Anglo-Saxon monosyllables live on! Second, the syntax of English, although much simplified from its Old English origins, remains recognizably Germanic. The Norman conquest added French vocabulary to the language, and through pidginization it arguably stripped out some Germanic grammar, but it did not ADD French grammar.

  • Map projections illustrated with a face

    January 13, 2014  |  Mapping

    Map projection with a face

    Most people, at least those who visit sites like FlowingData, know about map projections. You have to do math to get the globe, a thing that exists in this 3-dimensional world, into a two-dimensional space. The often-noted scene from the West Wing explains a bit, some demos help you compare, and there are map games that highlight distortions.

    But, it can still be fuzzy because most of us don't deal with the true shape and size of countries regularly. These figures from Elements of map projection with applications to map and chart construction, published in 1921, take a different route and place a face — something familiar — to show distortions. Foreheads get bigger, ears get smaller, noses change sizes, and projections are easier to understand. [via io9]

  • A visual exploration of refugee migrations

    January 9, 2014  |  Mapping

    Refugee project

    Hyperakt and Ekene Ijeoma visualized migrations over time and space in The Refugee Project. The interactive is based on United Nations data, which is naturally limited in scope, because it's difficult to count undocumented migrations, but there is plenty to learn here about major political and social events in history.

    The map starts in 1975, and with each tick of a year, the circles adjust to show outgoing numbers. Mouse over a circle, and you can see estimates for where people went, which is represented with extending lines.

    Document icons appear over major event locations which provide more context about what happened in the country. This is key. I just wish there were more of them. It'd provide an even better history lesson.

  • Cherry picking years for random sports statements

    January 9, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Baseline cherrypicker

    When you watch sports, it can sometimes feel like the stat guy pulls random numbers for the talking heads to ponder, and you can't help but wonder who significant the numbers actually are. Benjamin Schmidt shows all the possibilities for a common statement during baseball games, and it turns out there are a lot of statements to pick from.

    Statements of the form "Jack Morris won more games in the 1980s than anyone else" are fascinating. Although they're true, they rest on cherry-picked years that may or may not illustrate a deeper truth in context. (And we see them all the time: see my college degrees cherry-picker for another area.) For baseball, there are thousands of statements just like the ones here that you can make about any single cumulative stat over the game's history--10,296, to be exact. Printed out, all the statements you could make with the data here would take about 15,000 pages: this visualization lets you hone in on the patches of interest.

  • Facial hair trends over time

    January 8, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Facial hair trends cumulative

    In 1976, Dwight E. Robinson, an economist at the University of Washington, studied facial hair of the men who appeared in the Illustrated London News from 1842 to 1972 [pdf].

    The remarkable regularity of our wavelike fluctuations suggests a large measure of independence from outside historical events. The innovation of the safety razor and the wars which occurred during the period studied appear to have had negligible effects on the time series. King C. Gillette's patented safety razor began its meteoric sales rise in 1905. But by that year beardlessness had already been on the rise for more than 30 years, and its rate of expansion seems not to have augmented appreciably afterward.

    Someone has to update this to the present. I'm pretty sure we're headed towards a bearded peak, if we're not at the top already.

  • Timeline shows a century of rock history

    January 6, 2014  |  Network Visualization

    History of rock

    Jessica Edmondson visualized the history of rock music, from foundations in the pre-1900s to a boom in the 1960s and finally to what we have now. Nodes represent music styles, and edges represent musical connections. There are a lot of them and as a whole it's a screen of spaghetti, but it's animated, which is key. It starts at the beginning and develops over time, so you know where to go and what to look at. Music samples for each genre is also a nice touch. [Thanks, Jessica]

  • Happy new year around the world

    January 6, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Happy new year around the world

    New Year's is a worldwide event, but as we know, it doesn't happen simultaneously everywhere. Midnight happens in different time zones and in various languages, so Krist Wongsuphasawat from Twitter visualized the event in an animated interactive, as people tweeted happy new year around the world. Press play and see how it happened.

    The best part is that UTC+01:00 area that covers Central Europe and Western Africa. Spikes in 16 languages by my count.

  • Body maps show where we feel emotion

    January 2, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Body maps

    Engineering and psychology researchers in Finland investigated where we feel and don't feel.

    The team showed the volunteers two blank silhouettes of person on a screen and then told the subjects to think about one of 14 emotions: love, disgust, anger, pride, etc. The volunteers then painted areas of the body that felt stimulated by that emotion. On the second silhouette, they painted areas of the body that get deactivated during that emotion.

    The body maps above show the results of the survey. As you'd expect, the body looks like it shuts down with depression, and it lights up with happiness, but it's the subtle differences that are most interesting. I like the contrast between pride and anger, a difference of fists and feet.

    Check out the full paper for more details. [via NPR]

  • Evolution of reddit in stacked areas

    December 23, 2013  |  Statistical Visualization

    Evolution of reddit

    Computer science PhD student Randy Olson likes to analyze reddit in his spare time. We saw his network of subreddits already, but his look earlier this year at the evolution of reddit is more interesting. The yearly breakdowns and explanations are the best part. I'm relatively new to reddit (and totally feel like an old man when I visit), so it's fun to see what the site used to be. More news and fewer Scumbag Steves, with a humble beginning in nsfw?

  • Highway traffic reorganized by color

    December 20, 2013  |  Data Art

    In the video above, filmmaker Cy Kuckenbaker reorganized midday traffic by color. No computer-generated elements required.

    In this new video I took a four minute shot of state highway 163, which is San Diego's first freeway then removed the time between cars passing and reorganized them according to color. I was curious to see what the city’s car color palette looked like when broken down. We are a car culture after all. I was surprised that the vast majority of cars are colorless: white, gray and black. The bigger surprise though was just how many cars passed in four minutes of what looked like light traffic: 462 cars.

  • Military footprint

    December 19, 2013  |  Mapping

    Military footprint

    Similar to his collection of prison map snapshots, Josh Begley collected images of military bases around the world.

    In addition to the map -- which is built using MapBox, an open source and user-friendly publishing platform -- I've included snapshots of the earth's surface at various latitudes and longitudes. What does a military base look like from above? Which installations are secret and which can be viewed on the open internet? Running a small Processing sketch to query the Google Maps and Bing Maps APIs, I grabbed a satellite image for each point and am displaying the collection as a simple lightbox gallery.

  • Earth wind map

    December 17, 2013  |  Mapping

    Earth wind map

    Remember the wind map of the United States by Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viegas? Cameron Beccario made one for Earth, based on data from the Global Forecast System.

  • Network of subreddits

    December 17, 2013  |  Network Visualization

    Reddit viz

    There are over 5,000 subreddits with plenty of overlap and similarities. Randy Olson graphed them based on link activity and users and put them in an interactive. The overall view isn't that useful (other than easily spotting the My Little Pony-themed outlier cluster in the top right), but if you use reddit and are familiar with the territory, it can be fun to browse.

  • Data and visualization year in review, 2013

    Data and visualization year in review, 2013

    Visualization continues to mature and focus more on the data it represents than on novel designs and size. Let's have a look back.
  • Airport billboard encourages wonderment

    December 13, 2013  |  Visualization

    Airports conjure thoughts of security, bag checks, and cramped spaces, and flights are hardly something to look forward to. British Airways wants to bring the magic back with these real-time billboards. As a British Airway flight passes overhead, a child appears and points up to the plane in awe, along with text that says where the plane is from. [Thanks, Jonathan]

Unless otherwise noted, graphics and words by me are licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC. Contact original authors for everything else.