• 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.

  • Find new beers to drink

    March 5, 2014  |  Network Visualization

    Beer similarities

    Based on reviews from BeerAdvocate, Beer Viz, a visualization class project, asks you to choose a general style of beer and a beer that you like. Then it shows you beers that are similar, based on appearance, taste, aroma, and overall score. It's like a visual version of the beer recommendation system we saw last year.

  • Basketball movements visualized

    March 4, 2014  |  Mapping

    Tim Duncan movements

    The NBA has been kind of gaga over data the past few years, and they recently announced that all 30 teams would have player tracking installed so they can see where they go at night after games. Wait, no. I mean so that there is data on where each player is on the court at any given time. Fathom Information Design played with some of this data for an Oklahoma City versus San Antonio game, with some sketches.

    Above are the movements of power forward Tim Duncan, who sticks around the middle of the court throughout a game. A guard on the other hand, runs around the court more. This is obvious if you've watched him play, but sketches like this coupled with spatiotemporal analysis could be interesting.

    Also, I get the sense that there's more people who want to know about this data than there are who know how to, so if you're a statistician on the job hunt, there's that.

  • Solar time versus standard time around the world

    March 3, 2014  |  Mapping

    How much is time wrong around the world?

    After noting the later dinner time in Spain, Stefano Maggiolo noted relatively late sunsets for one of the possible reasons, compared to standard time. Then he mapped sunset time versus standard time around the world.

    Looking for other regions of the world having the same peculiarity of Spain, I edited a world map from Wikipedia to show the difference between solar and standard time. It turns out, there are many places where the sun rises and sets late in the day, like in Spain, but not a lot where it is very early (highlighted in red and green in the map, respectively). Most of Russia is heavily red, but mostly in zones with very scarce population; the exception is St. Petersburg, with a discrepancy of two hours, but the effect on time is mitigated by the high latitude. The most extreme example of Spain-like time is western China: the difference reaches three hours against solar time. For example, today the sun rises there at 10:15 and sets at 19:45, and solar noon is at 15:01.

  • Why you should buy the bigger pizza

    February 28, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Pizza price

    Because you get more pizza to eat, and if you don't finish it, you'll have breakfast tomorrow. Other than that fine reason, well, it's geometrically the better deal. Planet Money explains with an interactive that shows the price per square inch for 3,678 pizza places across the United States, based on data from Grubhub.

    The math of why bigger pizzas are such a good deal is simple: A pizza is a circle, and the area of a circle increases with the square of the radius.
    More pizza more problems

    So, for example, a 16-inch pizza is actually four times as big as an 8-inch pizza.

    And when you look at thousands of pizza prices from around the U.S., you see that you almost always get a much, much better deal when you buy a bigger pizza.

    You get more pizza, and the business gets more money with minimal extra pizza-making effort. Win-win. Although, keep going on the horizontal axis and I bet that curve starts to curl up. Where can I get a ten-foot pizza?

  • An exploration of selfies

    February 25, 2014  |  Data Art

    Selfie City

    Selfiecity, from Lev Manovich, Moritz Stefaner, and a small group of analysts and researchers, is a detailed visual exploration of 3,200 selfies from five major cities around the world. The project is both a broad look at demographics and trends, as well as a chance to look closer at the individual observations.
    Continue Reading

  • Near-real-time global forest watch

    February 24, 2014  |  Mapping

    Global forest watch

    Global Forest Watch uses satellite imagery and other technologies to estimate forest usage, change, and tree cover (among other things). These estimates and their eventual actions used to be slow. Now they're near-real-time.

    This is about to change with the launch of Global Forest Watch—an online forest monitoring system created by the World Resources Institute, Google and a group of more than 40 partners. Global Forest Watch uses technologies including Google Earth Engine and Google Maps Engine to map the world’s forests with satellite imagery, detect changes in forest cover in near-real-time, and make this information freely available to anyone with Internet access.

    Many layers and high granularity. Take your time with this one.

  • A human-readable explorer for SEC filings

    February 21, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    SEC filings

    Maris Jensen just made SEC filings readable by humans. The motivation:

    But in the twenty years since, despite hundreds of millions invested in rounds of contracted EDGAR modernization efforts and interactive data false starts, the SEC's EDGAR has remained almost untouched. In 2014, the SEC is quite literally doing less with SEC filings than their predecessors had planned for 1984. Data tagging is the red-headed stepchild of the Commission -- out of hundreds of forms, only about a dozen are filed as structured data -- and the first program to automate the selection of SEC filings for review, the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis (DERA)'s 'Robocop', has been 'aspirational' for years. The academics in the division responsible for the SEC's interactive data initiatives write papers about information asymmetry, using EDGAR data they repurchase in usable form for millions each year, but do nothing to fix it. Companies are chastised for insufficient and inefficient disclosure, while the SEC fails to help retail investors navigate corporate disclosures at all.

    Look up a company and see their financials, ownership, influences, and board members, among other things typically not so straightforward to look up.

  • Using slime mold to find the best motorway routes

    February 20, 2014  |  Mapping

    This is all sorts of neat. Researchers Andrew Adamatzky and Ramon Alonso-Sanz are using a slime mold, P polycephalum, to find the most efficient road routes to provide guidance on how to rework them. P polycephalum is a single-celled organism that forages for food through various branches, and when it finds the most efficient food source, backs away from the others. The video above is a sped up version of it in action. Adamatzky and Alonso-Sanz put a map underneath.

    We cut agar plates in a shape of Iberian peninsula, place oat flakes at the sites of major urban areas and analyse the foraging network developed. We compare the plasmodial network with principle motorways and also analyse man-made and plasmodium networks in a framework of planar proximity graphs.

    [via infosthetics]

  • Why we think of north pointing up

    February 19, 2014  |  Mapping

    Claudius Ptolemy world map

    Nick Danforth for Al Jazeera delves into the history books for why north is typically on the top of our maps. There's no single reason for it, but Ptolemy might have had something to do with it.

    The north's position was ultimately secured by the beginning of the 16th century, thanks to Ptolemy, with another European discovery that, like the New World, others had known about for quite some time. Ptolemy was a Hellenic cartographer from Egypt whose work in the second century A.D. laid out a systematic approach to mapping the world, complete with intersecting lines of longitude and latitude on a half-eaten-doughnut-shaped projection that reflected the curvature of the earth. The cartographers who made the first big, beautiful maps of the entire world, Old and New — men like Gerardus Mercator, Henricus Martellus Germanus and Martin Waldseemuller — were obsessed with Ptolemy. They turned out copies of Ptolemy's Geography on the newly invented printing press, put his portrait in the corners of their maps and used his writings to fill in places they had never been, even as their own discoveries were revealing the limitations of his work.

    Ptolemy put north on top. Although, we don't know why he put it there.

  • Surviving on minimum wage

    February 17, 2014  |  Infographics

    Surviving on minimum wage

    As most of us know, it's not easy getting by on minimum wage, and in some places it's not possible. The New York Times provides a calculator to see how challenging it can be.

    A simple visual on the right shows dollars made per year, one box per dollar colored green initially and then red to signal debt. It's a good way to make the numbers more relatable. Select a state, enter expenses, and watch dollars disappear, and most likely you'll end up in the red early.

  • Olympic event explainer videos

    February 10, 2014  |  Infographics

    Olympics coverage by NYT

    Winter Olympic events are filled with subtleties that if you know about them, can help you appreciate athletes' skills and the sports a bit more. The New York Times published three explainer videos to help you do just that. So far, there's one on slopestyle, which has roots in the Winter X Games, another on the luge, which is freakin' dangerous, and the halfpipe, from Shaun White's perspective. The features are a nice combination of video, graphics, and narrative.

    If you're watching the Olympics, do yourself a favor and bookmark NYT Olympic coverage.

  • Map: US bus and Amtrak routes

    February 6, 2014  |  Mapping

    Bus routes

    In case you're wondering how to travel the country without a car (in a way other than running), this map from the American Intercity Bus Riders Association [pdf] shows you all the bus and Amtrak routes that span the United States. Keep in mind that these trains don't run 24/7, so plan accordingly.

  • Olympic events placed in New York for scale

    February 5, 2014  |  Infographics

    Bryant park ski jump

    The New York Times published a fun piece that places Winter Olympic events in the city. Events include the luge in Times Square, ski jump in Bryant Park, and speed skating down Broadway.

    The Winter Olympics sometimes gets flack for being the thing in between the more popular Summer Olympics, but I think it has a lot to do with scale and perception of the events. People know how fast they run, but don't always get how steep the mountains are. I used to go downhill skiing, and from a distance the hills didn't look especially daunting, but when I stood at the top of the black diamond, it looked pretty scary.

  • Places in the US with the most pleasant days per year

    February 4, 2014  |  Mapping

    Pleasant places to live

    We've seen plenty of maps the past few weeks that show how bad the weather is, in just about everywhere but California. Kelly Norton looked at it from the other direction and estimated how many pleasant days per year areas of the US get, based on historical NOAA data.

    I decided to take a stab at what constitutes a "pleasant" day and then aggregate NOAA data for the last 23 years to figure out the regions of the United States with the most (and least) pleasant days in a typical year. The results, I think, are not that surprising and pretty much affirm the answer given off the cuff by many of my west coast friends when asked about the best places, "Southern California?" For the areas with the least pleasant days, I admit I would have guessed North Dakota. However, it’s much of Montana that gets an average of a couple of weeks of pleasantness each year.

    Of course the map changes (mainly the geographic range) depending on the definition of a "pleasant" day. In this case it's defined as one where the mean temperature is between 55 and 75 degrees.

  • Digitally revamped atlas of historical geography, from 1932

    February 3, 2014  |  Mapping

    Snow cover

    In 1932, Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright published Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, a reference of almost 700 maps about a varied set of topics, such as weather, travel, and population. The Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond brought the atlas to digital life.

    In this digital edition we've tried to bring—hopefully unobtrusively and respectfully—Paullin and Wright’s maps a bit closer to that ideal. First, with the exception of the historical maps from the cartography section and a handful of others (those that used polar projections, for example), we’ve georeferenced and georectified all of the maps from the atlas so that they can be overlaid consistently within a digital mapping environment. (Georeferencing is a process of linking points on a map to geographic coordinates, and georectification is a process of warping a map using those coordinates to properly align it within a particular projection, here web mercator.) High-quality scans of all of the maps as they appeared on the plates are available too.

    Not only are the maps overlaid on a slippy map, but the lab also added simple interactions with tool tips and animation so you can look more specifically at the data.

    I could spend all day (or several days) looking through this. [Thanks, Lee]

  • Amount of snow to cancel school

    January 31, 2014  |  Mapping

    Snow day

    Someone ended an email to me last week with "Stay warm." Not to sound like a jerk, but I happened to be answering email outside with my t-shirt on and sweater slung over the chair. I was also half-wondering whether I should change into shorts. Anyway, this map by Alexandr Trubetskoy, or reddit user atrubetskoy, might be of interest to many of you not in California. It shows an estimated amount of snow required to close school for the day, by county.
    Continue Reading

  • History through the president’s words

    January 30, 2014  |  Infographics

    History through the Presidents Words

    The Washington Post visualized the use of specific words throughout the years during State of the Union addresses.

    Since 1900, there have been 116 State of the Union addresses, given by 20 presidents, with some presidents giving two addresses a year. Studying their choice of words, over time, provides glimpses of change in American politics—"communism" fades, "terrorism" increases—and evidence that some things never change ("America" comes up steadily, of course. As does "I.").

    For some reason the interactive won't load for me now (It did yesterday.), but there's also a PDF version that you can download. Although the PDF only goes back to 1989 Bush, so try for the interactive version first. It was an interesting one. Update: Works again.

    Can you believe it? We made it through an entire SOTU without a single word cloud. Come to think of it, I can't even remember the last time I saw one. I almost feel cheated.

  • What a computer sees while watching movies

    January 28, 2014  |  Data Art

    Benjamin Grosser visualized how computers "watch" movies through vision algorithms and artificial intelligence in Computers Watching Movies.

    Computers Watching Movies was computationally produced using software written by the artist. This software uses computer vision algorithms and artificial intelligence routines to give the system some degree of agency, allowing it to decide what it watches and what it does not. Six well-known clips from popular films are used in the work, enabling many viewers to draw upon their own visual memory of a scene when they watch it.

    Above is the bag scene from American Beauty. Contrast this with the more frantic Inception scene, and you get a good idea of how it works. See computer-watching scenes for several more movies here.

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