• Where nobody lives

    April 18, 2014  |  Mapping

    Where nobody lives

    We've seen the map of where everyone lives. Now here's the reverse of that by Nik Freeman: where nobody lives in the United States.

    A Block is the smallest area unit used by the U.S. Census Bureau for tabulating statistics. As of the 2010 census, the United States consists of 11,078,300 Census Blocks. Of them, 4,871,270 blocks totaling 4.61 million square kilometers were reported to have no population living inside them. Despite having a population of more than 310 million people, 47 percent of the USA remains unoccupied.

    See also Stephen Von Worley's map from a couple years ago, which shows blocks in the US with only one person per square mile.

  • Weird stacked area map thing

    April 16, 2014  |  Ugly Charts

    This chart-map-looking thing from Nightly News is making the rounds, and it's not good. I'm opening the comments below for critique so that you can release your angst. Signed copy of Data Points goes to a randomly selected commenter the end of this week. Have at it.

    Changing face

  • Five decades of warm and cold weather anomalies

    April 14, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Weather anomalies

    This year's polar vortex churned up some global warming skeptics, but as we know, it's more useful to look at trends over significant spans of time than isolated events. And, when you do look at a trend, it's useful to have a proper baseline to compare against.

    To this end, Enigma.io compared warm weather anomalies against cold weather anomalies, from 1964 to 2013. That is, they counted the number of days per year that were warmer than expected and the days it was colder than expected.

    An animated map leads the post, but the meat is in the time series. There's a clear trend towards more warm.

    Since 1964, the proportion of warm and strong warm anomalies has risen from about 42% of the total to almost 67% of the total – an average increase of 0.5% per year. This trend, fitted with a generalized linear model, accounts for 40% of the year-to-year variation in warm versus cold anomalies, and is highly significant with a p-value approaching 0.0. Though we remain cautious about making predictions based on this model, it suggests that this yearly proportion of warm anomalies will regularly fall above 70% in the 2030's.

    Explore in full or download the data and analyze yourself. Nice work. [Thanks, Dan]

  • High-detail maps with Disser

    April 10, 2014  |  Mapping

    Detailed building map

    Open data consultancy Conveyal released Disser, a command-line tool to disaggregate geographic data to show more details. For example, we've seen data represented with uniformly distributed dots to represent populations, which is fine for a zoomed out view. However, when you get in close, it can be useful to see distributions more accurately represented.

    If the goal of disaggregation is to make a reasonable guess at the data in its pre-aggregated form, we've done an okay job. There's an obvious flaw with this map, though. People aren't evenly distributed over a block — they're concentrated into residential buildings.

    So Disser combines datasets of different granularity, so that you can see spreads and concentrations that are closer to real life.

  • Independent coffee shops and community

    April 9, 2014  |  Mapping

    Independent coffee shops

    As part of the You Are Here project from the MIT Media Lab, an exploration of independent coffee shops in San Francisco:

    Independent coffee shops are positive markers of a living community. They function as social spaces, urban offices, and places to see the world go by. Communities are often formed by having spaces in which people can have casual interactions, and local and walkable coffee shops create those conditions, not only in the coffee shop themselves, but on the sidewalks around them. We use maps to know where these coffee shop communities exist and where, by placing new coffee shops, we can help form them.

    Each dot is a coffee shop, and the shaded spots around the dot represent the areas nearest each shop. It's an interesting, more granular contrast to coffee chain geography and provides a better sense of a city's layout.

    See also the same idea applied to Cambridge. I imagine there are more cities to come, as the data is gleaned from the Google Places and Google Distance Matrix APIs.

  • Regional macrobrews

    April 7, 2014  |  Mapping

    Beer tweeting

    FloatingSheep pointed their Twitter geography towards beer (and wine).

    From Sam Adams in New England to Yuengling in Pennsylvania to Grain Belt and Schlitz in the upper Midwest, these beers are quite clearly associated with particular places. Other beers, like Hudepohl and Goose Island are interesting in that they stretch out from their places of origin -- Cincinnati and Chicago, respectively -- to encompass a much broader region where there tend to be fewer regionally-specific competitors, at least historically. On the other hand, beers like Lone Star, Corona and Dos Equis tend to have significant overlap in their regional preferences, with all three having some level of dominance along the US-Mexico border region, but with major competition between these brands in both Arizona and Texas.

    This of course excludes the increased appreciation for craft beer, as there isn't enough data for significant microbrewery results.

  • Open access to 20,000 maps from NYPL

    April 3, 2014  |  Mapping

    Maps from NYPL

    The New York Public Library announced open access to 20,000 maps, making them free to download and use.

    The Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division is very proud to announce the release of more than 20,000 cartographic works as high resolution downloads. We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions.* To the extent that some jurisdictions grant NYPL an additional copyright in the digital reproductions of these maps, NYPL is distributing these images under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. The maps can be viewed through the New York Public Library's Digital Collections page, and downloaded (!), through the Map Warper

    Begin your journey.

  • Planetary layer cake

    April 2, 2014  |  Mapping

    Planetary layer cake

    From Cakecrumbs, a product that helps you learn while you eat: planetary layer cakes. The graduate student slash baker hobbyist's sister asked if she could make one, and at first she thought it couldn't be done. But then she thought more about it.

    I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about it. I don’t admit defeat. Ever. But especially not with cake. Nothing is impossible is pretty much my baking motto, so to say this cake was impossible left me feeling weird. There had to be a way. A way that didn't involve carving or crumbing the cake. I kept mulling it over until I had a breakthrough.

    See how it was done.

  • Exponential water tank

    March 31, 2014  |  Infographics

    Exponential water tank

    Hibai Unzueta, based on a paper by Albert Bartlett, demonstrates exponential growth with a simple animation. It depicts a man standing in a tank with finite capacity and water rising slowly, but at an exponential rate.

    Our brains are wired to predict future behaviour based on past behaviour (see here). But what happens when something growths exponentially? For a long time, the numbers are so little in relation to the scale that we hardly see the changes. But even at moderate growth rates exponential functions reach a point where the numbers grow too fast. Once we confirm that our predictions about the future have failed, very little time to react may be left.

    All looks safe at first, because the water rises so slowly, but it seems to rise all of a sudden. Oh, the suspense. What will happen to cartoon pixel man?

  • Centuries of European border changes

    March 28, 2014  |  Mapping

    The Centennia Historical Atlas is a program that shows you border changes in Europe and the Middle East, from the 11th century to the present. It's meant as an educational tool. The video below is the animated map from the program set to climactic music from the movie Inception.

    Now contrast that to the original promotional video for Centennia. I'm amused. [via @sogrady]

  • Smoking rates and income

    March 27, 2014  |  Mapping

    Smoking rates

    Based on a study on smoking prevalence from 1996 to 2012, a map by The New York Times shows the results. Smoking rates among men and women have declined overall over the years, but there are still relatively high rates in many areas of the country, which appears to correlate with income. Lower income tends towards higher smoking rates.

    That would explain why the map above looks similar to a county-level map for median household income, which probably interacts with life spans by county somehow.

  • Reconstructing Google Streetview as a point cloud

    March 26, 2014  |  Mapping

    Patricio Gonzalez Vivo, an MFA Design & Technology student, scraped depth from Google Streetview and then reconstructed it in openFrameworks. The result is Point Cloud City. See it in action in the video below.

    Dreamlike.

    Now I'm curious what else can be gleaned from this data, because this essentially means you could get really detailed data about the makeup of places, down to the window of a building. Although I don't imagine Google will let this stay so accessible for long. [Thanks, @pixelbeat]

  • Human heartbeat

    March 26, 2014  |  Data Art

    Human heart beat

    Jen Lowe tracks her heart rate with a Basis watch, and she's showing the last 24 hours of that data in One Human Heartbeat.

    Basis doesn't provide an open API, so I access the data using a variation of this code. The heartrate you see is from 24 hours ago. This is because the data can only be accessed via usb connection. Twice a day I connect the watch and upload my latest heartrates to the database. I've been doing this for 33 days now.

    It's March 25, 2014, and statistics say I have about 16452 days left.

    On the surface, it's just a pulsating light on a screen, but somehow it feels like more than that. The countdown aspect makes me uneasy, as if I were watching a ticker on someone's life, or my own even. I want to keep watching though, because it continues to pulsate. It's hopeful.

  • Level of road grid

    March 25, 2014  |  Mapping

    Road orientation

    Seth Kadish looked at the road network of several major counties and estimated the directions the streets run. The result is a set of charts that shows which cities use a grid system and those that don't.

    If you're like me, and you use the Sun to navigate, you probably appreciate cities with gridded street plans that are oriented in the cardinal directions. If you know that your destination is due west, even if you hit a dead end or two, you'll be able to get there. However, not all urban planners settled on such a simple layout for road networks. For some developers, topography or water may have gotten in the way. Others may not have appreciated the efficiency of the grid. This visualization assesses those road networks by comparing the relative degree to which they are gridded.

    Whoa, Charlotte.

    Since the original, Kadish has added more counties and a handful of international cities.

  • Graph TV shows ratings by episode

    March 24, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Ratings for The Office

    Kevin Wu made a straightforward interactive that lets you see IMDB television ratings over time, per episode and by season.
    Continue Reading

  • Failed Bitcoin market activity

    March 21, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Bitcoin activity

    Stamen visualized Bitcoin activity, noting a variety of traders who knew what they were doing, didn't know what they were doing, and were apparently automated.

    In February 2014 MtGox, one of the oldest Bitcoin exchanges, filed for bankruptcy protection. On March 9th a group posted a data leak, which included the trading history of all MtGox users from April 2011 to November 2013. The graphs below explore the trade behaviors of the 500 highest volume MtGox users from the leaked data set. These are the Bitcoin barons, wealthy speculators, dueling algorithms, greater fools, and many more who took bitcoin to the moon.

  • NBA passing dynamics

    March 20, 2014  |  Network Visualization

    NBA passing

    With player tracking installed in all of the NBA arenas, the sports analytics folks can essentially replay entire games through data and dissect the many facets of play. Andrew Bergmann looked at the passing averages between starters on each team.

    The thickness of the gray lines on the accompanying chart represents the average number of passes per game between two players.

    A very clear picture emerges on which teams distribute the ball more evenly between players, such as the Nets, Bulls and Cavaliers. On the flip side, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin dominate passing for the Clippers, and likewise for Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio of the Timberwolves.

    These connections are non-directional, so it hides a little bit, but you still get a good sense of who the offense runs through based on the sum-width of connections from an individual. You can also easily see team ball distribution, which is the point of the graphic.

    Next step: match ups. I bet that's where the money's at. We've seen a lot of analyses and graphics that show the activity of a single team, but ultimately, you want to know how your team plays against others in your division and playoff contenders. Ideal gameplay against subpar teams? Not so important.

  • An exploration of cultural production

    March 19, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Pantheon treemap

    Pantheon, a project from the Macro Connections group at The MIT Media Lab, explores cultural influences across countries and domains.

    To make our efforts tractable, Pantheon will not focus on culture, as it is understood in its broadest sense, but on cultural production. In a broad sense, culture can be understood as all of the information that humans—or animals [1]—generate and transmit through non-genetic means [2]. At Pantheon, however, we do not focus on the entire range of cultural information, but in a subset of this information that we define narrowly as cultural production. That is, we do not focus on cultural information such as passed on family values or societal trust [3], but on cultural production as proxied by the biographies of notable historical characters. Moreover, we focus on the subset of cultural production that we can identify as global culture, meaning the subset of cultural production that has broken the barriers of space, time and language.

    Rankings inevitably come into play, such as who the most influential philosopher, physicist, or country is, and the project covers a broad spectrum, so the methodology is the most important here. Using data from Wikipedia, Freebase, and other online sources, the researchers created several indices that essentially give a score to individuals for popularity and production. This naturally results in estimation fuzziness, which means you take the results with salt and all that.

    It's an interesting look though and a good start to something bigger. If anything, you'll probably learn something new after poking around for a bit.

  • Beer me, Minnesota

    March 14, 2014  |  Infographics

    Beer me Minnesota

    The Star Tribune has a fun interactive that recommends Minnesota brews, based on five key beer characteristics. Use sliders to enter your preference of bitterness, aroma, etc and the results come in radar graph form.

    Whether you're a creature of habit or always up for something new, this tool will help you get to know what’s brewing in Minnesota. We’ve catalogued more than 100 beers from 36 Minnesota breweries and sorted them by five characteristics.

    I fully expect someone to expand this to the rest of the world.

  • Before and after lot vacancy

    March 6, 2014  |  Data Art

    vacated

    Justin Blinder used New York's city planning dataset and Google Streetview for a before and after view of vacant lots.

    Vacated mines and combines different datasets on vacant lots to present a sort of physical facade of gentrification, one that immediately prompts questions by virtue of its incompleteness: “Vacated by whom? Why? How long had they been there? And who’s replacing them?” Are all these changes instances of gentrification, or just some? While we usually think of gentrification in terms of what is new or has been displaced, Vacated highlights the momentary absence of such buildings, either because they’ve been demolished or have not yet been built. All images depicted in the project are both temporal and ephemeral, since they draw upon image caches that will eventually be replaced.

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