• Minority Report Physical Interface in Real Life – Oblong g-speak

    November 17, 2008  |  Visualization

    Remember the awesome interface in Minority Report? You know, the one where Tom Cruise is sifting through files and information as if he were directing a symphony? Oblong, whose co-founder served as science adviser on the Steven Spielberg movie, created something a lot like it. It's called g-speak.

    Oblong Industries is the developer of the g-speak spatial operating environment.

    The SOE's combination of gestural i/o, recombinant networking, and real-world pixels brings the first major step in computer interface since 1984; starting today, g-speak will fundamentally change the way people use machines at work, in the living room, in conference rooms, in vehicles. The g-speak platform is a complete application development and execution environment that redresses the dire constriction of human intent imposed by traditional GUIs. Its idiom of spatial immediacy and information responsive to real-world geometry enables a necessary new kind of work: data-intensive, embodied, real-time, predicated on universal human expertise.

    Here's the impressive demo reel:

    Now here's the Minority Report clip for comparison's sake:

    Of course g-speak is still in development and has a lot of work ahead before it's useful to explore "massive datasets" but it's a good first step nevertheless. Plus, it just looks fun to play with. I wonder what it'd do if I gave it an obscene gesture.

    [via Data Mining and Engadget]

  • Open Thread: I Don’t Care About the Data…

    November 14, 2008  |  Discussion, Visualization

    Martin briefly discusses a presentation at a recent visualization workshop. The speaker blurts, "I don't care about the data, I am just interested in the method." This begs the question

    Can you design worthwhile visualization without worthwhile data?

    I can see why the speaker said what he did, but you know what, if you don't care about the data then I probably won't either, and most likely, I won't care about your visualization. What do you think? Can useful visualization techniques come out of using whatever datasets?

    I asked the same question on Twitter a couple of days ago. Here are a few of the responses:

    @EagerEyes: No.

    @skylark64: you can, but shouldn't... Then again, maybe it is worthwhile to someone.

    @couch: No.

    @vrypan: But that's the question in the first place! "what's my data worth?" If you know the answer, tools have little importance.

    I think I know where this conversation is headed.

  • Alternative to Cartograms Using Transparency

    November 13, 2008  |  Mapping

    Alpha map

    The thing about cartograms is that it's hard to make out what you're seeing. You lose most sense of geography and size comparison is near impossible. They're more of a pretty picture than an analytical tool. Axis Maps proposes an alternative to cartograms, and the example of course uses presidential election data.

    Instead of morphing counties so that they are sized by area, Axis uses transparency or more accurately, alpha levels. Uh, wait, is that more accurate? Oh I dunno. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Anyways, as a result, counties with higher populations glow brightly and those with smaller populations fade into the darkness that is oblivion. I like it. More importantly though - what do you think?

    [via Cartogrammar]

  • Google Uses Search Terms to Predict Flu Activity

    November 12, 2008  |  Statistical Visualization

    annual_cdc_comparison

    In Google Flu Trends, Google uses related searches to predict flu activity in your area "up to two weeks faster than traditional flu surveillance systems." The above graph shows query-based flu estimates compared against flu data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

    We have found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Of course, not every person who searches for "flu" is actually sick, but a pattern emerges when all the flu-related search queries from each state and region are added together. We compared our query counts with data from a surveillance system managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and discovered that some search queries tend to be popular exactly when flu season is happening. By counting how often we see these search queries, we can estimate how much flu is circulating in various regions of the United States.

    [Thanks, Iman]

  • 672 Obama Headlines – Both Browsable and Readable

    November 12, 2008  |  Software, Visualization

    Vertigo put together a great collection of 672 Obama headlines using Silverlight's deep zoom capabilities. The cool thing here isn't so much the number of headlines or the mosaic of pictures. It's how you can interact with the newspapers' front pages. It's not just a mosaic of thumbnails. You can pan and zoom really smoothly with a roll of the scroll wheel and mouse drag and a click. Zoom all the way in to read the actual articles without it taking forever for high-resolution images to load.

    Take a look see at Blaise Aguera y Arcas' TED talk for where this technology is headed:

    [via Data Mining]

  • Exploration of Our Presidents’ First 100 Days in Office

    November 11, 2008  |  Infographics

    GOOD Magazine and Atley Kasky collaborate to explore U.S. Presidents' first 100 days in office.

    I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people," Franklin D. Roosevelt told supporters in 1932 while accepting the presidential nomination. When he took office the following year, he spent his first 100 days enacting a dizzying number of reforms designed to stabilize an economically depressed nation. Since then, a president's first 100 days have been an indicator of what he is able to accomplish. In January 2009, the clock starts again.

    For each President, going back to FDR, a line represents his first 100 days in office. Each circle corresponds to a significant event. The profiles underneath the timelines start with a notable quote from the President's inauguration speech (except Truman and Johnson, who were sworn in after the death of Roosevelt and Kennedy, respectively) followed by events marked with cute, little icons that show what type of event it was. The % of popular vote, days in office, and political inheritance are there too.

    Yeah, it's a crud load of information (presented quite nicely). I hope you have a big monitor.

    [Thanks, @hungryclone]

  • Maps and Cartograms of 2008 Presidential Election

    November 10, 2008  |  Mapping

    Cartograms got a lot of coverage in 2004 when Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman used them to show the Bush/Kerry election results. Naturally, they've put together a similar series of (very red) maps and cartograms for the just past 2008 election.

    In case you're unfamiliar with cartograms, they're essentially maps with morphed areas according to some metric. The election series for example are adjusted for population, so that states are sized by population instead of physical area. The drawback of course is that after a certain point, the image starts to look a lot like a Pollock painting.

    [Thanks, Sara]

  • Diagrams Galore in Diagram Diaries Flickr Group

    November 7, 2008  |  Infographics

    diagram-diaries

    For those watching the clock and waiting for the weekend to hurry up and start, here's the Diagram Diaries Flickr group. The 654 diagrams should keep you occupied for a good while. Enjoy, and have a good weekend, everyone.

  • Sprint Dashboard to the Universe – Plug Into Now

    November 6, 2008  |  Infographics

    Sprint, in a promotion to their mobile Internet service, created this amusing futuristic dashboard. "All aboard the now machine," the computer says. "How about a big bowl of now?... Please keep your hands inside the moment...your hair has grown 5 millionths of centimeter in the last second." It's got tickers for eggs being produced, emails being sent, spam emails being received, recent news from The New York Times, CNN, newsvine, top Google searches of the day, and most importantly, seconds until doughnut day. That'd be a nice little screensaver - or something I'd have running 24/7 on a giant plasma.

    Oh, and yes, that is my face in the middle.

  • Obama and McCain Voters’ Current State of Mind

    November 4, 2008  |  Infographics

    state-of-mind-2

    The New York Times adds another item to the list of things to watch tonight as election results start to pour in. The Times invites readers to enter one word that describes their current state of mind and who they support. You are allowed to enter a word once per hour. The result is the above self-updating word cloud as new words from readers flow from left to right. You can filter among McCain supporters, Obama supporters, or everyone. McCain supporters appear to be worried, scared, and nervous while Obama supporters are excited, hopeful, and optimistic. Both sides are anxious. What's your current state of mind?

  • Google Visualization API Opens Up

    When Google first launched their visualization API, you could only use data that was in Google spreadsheets, which was pretty limiting. Yesterday, Google opened this up, and you can now hook in data from wherever you want. What does that mean? It means that developers now have access to all the visualization API offerings like before, but it's now a lot easier to hook visualization into data applications.

    Headed for Googley Waters

    It also means we're about to see a boom in web applications that look very Googley. Motion charts (above) are going to spread like wildfire and ugly gauges will grace us with their presence. It'll be similar to the Google Maps craze, but not quite as rampant. In a couple months from now, I will have a long list of online places that use the Google visualization API. It's going to be interesting where online visualization goes from here.

    Going back to my original question, to what extent do you think the now-open Google Visualization API will affect visualization on the Web?

    [via ReadWriteWeb]

  • Showing This Many Per Second – Data Humanized

    November 3, 2008  |  Data Art

    I've always thought one of the best ways to make data relate-able is to humanize it. Wouter Walmink, from studio:ludens, does this quite literally in so_many_a_second. I'm sure you've across statistics that state something like "this many people die of this condition per second in the world," but that number, even though it's a rate - something that is dynamic, feels very static.

    In so_many_a_second these rates are represented by objects in an attempt to show these types of numbers on a "human scale." The above shows number of plastic cups used by airlines per second. Oh yes, it's raining cups.

    Depicting the ongoing stream of events, this application tries to get the user in touch with the emotional actuality of these objective data.

    The concept itself isn't anything new. We've seen stuff sort of like this before (e.g. Running the Numbers: An American Portrait, Google employee count), but the novel thing with so_many_a_second is that you can create your own flows and compare them side-by-side. It's more than just a literal representation of numbers.

    Yes, we could efficiently place all the rates in a horizontal bar graph, but somehow, so_many_a_second makes me care more.

    [via infosthetics | Thanks, Tim]

  • European Economic Weather Map – Sudden Change in Outlook

    October 31, 2008  |  Economics, Mapping

    In this map from the Financial Times, the state of Europe's economy is shown like a weather map. A cloud with a lightning bolt represents a "sudden change in outlook, outlook uncertain." There's nothing but gray skies ahead, I'm afraid. Oh, but wait, what's that? Cyprus has some sun peaking out over the cloud: "Clouds over growth with some sunny prospects." There is hope.

    [via The Big Picture | Thanks, Michael]

  • Map Shows Newspaper Endorsements in US Presidential Election

    October 29, 2008  |  Mapping

    newspapers

    Philip, from infochimps, maps newspaper endorsements using data from the Editor & Publisher's list. Circles with the blue radial gradient are newspapers that endorse Obama and John Kerry in 2004 while the red ones show McCain/Bush endorsements. The lighter blue circles are newspapers that endorse Obama, but actually endorsed George Bush in 2004. It's a similar encoding for the John McCain endorsements except in red and the flip being John Kerry. Circle size is newspaper's circulation.

    The only thing I found a little weird was that the Dem to Rep or Rep to Dem endorsements were represented with all blue or all red. It certainly makes the circles stand out - which was the point - but doesn't really indicate a flip. I had to mouse over the circle to find that out.

    [via FlowingData Forums | Thanks, mrflip]

  • More Google Reader Stats When ‘show details’

    October 28, 2008  |  Statistical Visualization

    I just noticed that when you click on "show details" in Google Reader, you get a graph of how frequently posts come from that feed and how often you read those posts. It used to only show subscriber count (via Google Reader) and when the feed was last updated. It's one of those things where it's like "so... what" and it won't influence any of the decisions I make in life in any way, but hopefully when all of you "show details" for FlowingData all the red and blue bars are aligned :).

    P.S. Greetings from Chicago. It is much too early in the morning.

  • A Bunch of Japanese Women’s Bra Responses

    October 27, 2008  |  Data Art

    Uniqlo gathered hundreds of responses from a couple hundred Japanese women about bra size, makeup, and shopping and put it into this sort of 3-d world of short video clips. Questions appear at the top, you get a few random video responses, and then the animation zooms out to show you the rundown. I can't say I know what exactly is going on since I don't know Japanese, but I'm guessing... bra commercial? OK, yeah, I have no idea.
    Continue Reading

  • Who’s Leading Whom? Predictive Markets Versus Polls

    October 22, 2008  |  Statistical Visualization, Statistics

    This is a guest post from Michael Drumheller, Dirk Karis, Raif Majeed and Robert Morton of Tableau Software. They use Tableau to explore the relationship between polls and predictive markets.

    Predictive markets such as Intrade and the Iowa Electronic Markets have attracted more attention this year than in past Presidential elections. Some political observers such as ElectoralMap.net look to these markets as indicators of who's winning or losing.
    Continue Reading

  • Comparative View of Length of Rivers and Height of Mountains

    October 17, 2008  |  Infographics

    I had no idea these comparative views of length of rivers and heights of mountains were so popular - at least in the 1800s. There seemed to be a fascination with placing rivers and mountains next to each other when normally, we're used to seeing them intertwined in a geographic landscape. The above is actually just river lengths, but here's one that places rivers and mountains next to each other.
    Continue Reading

  • United States Poverty Rates From 1980 to 2007

    October 15, 2008  |  Mapping, Projects

    Thousands of bloggers are taking the time to discuss a single topic today - poverty. As we sit in our cozy homes, go out to eat, watch movies, or simply read the news on a computer, it's easy to forget that there are millions of people around the world who aren't so well off. Blog Action Day is an opportunity to remember and to perhaps help out in some way.

    Mapping Poverty Rates

    I of course took the visualization route. What better way to get the facts than through data? The US Census Bureau provides lots of poverty estimates, so I took their data and mapped it over the last 27 years. I found it alarming to see that some states had a poverty rate over 20%. I clearly live in a cozy bubble. What does your state look like?

  • Visualizing YouTube, Blogs, Twitter, Flickr, People…

    October 14, 2008  |  Network Visualization

    From the guys who brought you 6pli and other like-minded network visualization tools, Bestiario takes 6pli to the next level. 6pli lets users explore their del.icio.us bookmarks. This work, in collaboration with Harvard Berkaman, also lets users explore their del.icio.us bookmarks - as well as YouTube videos, Flickr photos, Twitter tweets, and content from Wikipedia, blogs, and other places. Items are clustered by content type and meta information. Yes, it's a whole lot of stuff in one place.

    The main idea is to take a few steps away from the list and scroll paradigm - sort of like DoodleBuzz, but from a more analytical standpoint. Does it make all those personal streams easier to browse and explore than something like FriendFeed? You be the judge.

    [Thanks, Jose]

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