• We Don’t Know Jack About the World – Alisa Miller TED Talk

    October 1, 2008  |  Mapping

    Alisa Miller, President and CEO of Public Radio International, enlightens us on how little U.S. news coverage there is on the rest of the world. How does she do this? She uses maps of course. Miller uses visualization to tell a (short) story. She shows us all the coverage on Iraq and the lack of coverage on all other countries, which is practically nothing.

    The name of this type of morphed map escapes me right now. Maybe someone can remind me?

    [Thanks, Jodi]

  • Winners of NSF Visualization Challenge 2008 Announced

    September 25, 2008  |  Visualization

    Remember the NSF visualization challenge announced at the beginning of this year? Nine months have come and gone, and the winners (and several honorable mentions), from five categories, were announced today. Above is Life in a Biofilm, which won honorable mention in the Informational Graphics category, by Andrew Dopheide and Gillian Lewis from University of Auckland.
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  • Doodle Your Way Through the News – DoodleBuzz

    September 25, 2008  |  Data Art

    I feel like I've been seeing and writing a lot about artistic visualization lately. Maybe it's because summer's ending and all the designers are finishing up their side projects. I dunno. In any case, Brendan Dawes provides you with a way to explore the news by doodling and scribbling. The piece is called DoodleBuzz. Type in a search term and then start doodling. News results (via the Daylife API) shoot off whatever path you draw.

    DoodleBuzz spawned from Brendan's desire to browse the news in a way that was completely different from the usual top-down scrolling we're used to seeing on the Web:

    DoodleBuzz was born out of an idea to create an entirely new way of exploring information - one that allows for a kind of "quiet chaos" that gives people the opportunity to explore unthought of paths and connections along their news gathering journey. You may start at Iraq but end up finishing on Britney, whilst taking in The Catholic Church, Global Warming and 50 Cent.

    I don't know about you, but the "quiet chaos" gave me a small headache. What do you think? Go try it and let us know what you think in the comments.

    [via Data Mining]

  • Have You Registered to Vote Yet?

    September 24, 2008  |  Statistical Visualization

    PhD Comics has grown to be my favorite comic of the moment. It's unbelievable how much I relate to all of it. I am not alone. Anyways, have you registered to vote yet? If not, get on it!

  • Visualization Workshop in Madrid – Database City

    September 24, 2008  |  Data Art

    It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since I was in Madrid at the Medialab-Prado for the Visualizar workshop. It was a two-week event where designers from all around got together and created projects focused on data. There was a wide variety of data-centric projects on Twitter, email, art, spam, and traffic (above). I worked with migration data. It was also a pretty diverse group – computer science, graphic design, and of course, me, the token statistician.

    Call for Projects and Papers

    Now it's time for Visualizar 2008: Database City. There's an open call for projects and papers with the idea of a database city. Imagine a city where there are displays that show energy consumption, pollution, or carbon footprint. What would that city look like? Would we act differently with that type of information right in front of us?

    From the Visualizar page:

    Urban environments, which are becoming increasingly dense, complex and diverse, are one of contemporary society’s largest "databases", daily generating volumes of information that require new methods of analysis and understanding.

    How can we use the data visualization and information design resources to understand the processes governing contemporary cities and better manage them? What can we learn from studying traffic and pedestrian movement flows through the streets of Madrid? What would happen if we filled the streets with screens providing information updated each moment about water and electricity consumption?

    Important Dates

    This year's workshop is also two weeks long from November 5 - 18 and no doubt you will learn a lot. The Medialab-Prado offers housing to participants at a youth hostel and will also consider covering traveling expenses on a case-by-case basis. Submission deadline is October 5.

  • Beautiful Generative Computer Art – Metamorphosis

    September 23, 2008  |  Data Art

    Glenn Marshall has released his finished version of Metamorphosis, a beautiful piece of computer generative art programmed in Processing. I wish I knew a bit more about what I was seeing, but I can only guess that the branches and butterflies follow certain laws of nature and rules defined by the music (I hope). Nevertheless, it's beautiful. Here's the video below, but go to Vimeo to watch the video in all it's HD glory.
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  • maeve Installation Shows Relationships Between Projects

    September 22, 2008  |  Network Visualization

    The Interface Design Team at the University of Potsdam revealed maeve last week. It's an installation that lets users place physical project cards on an interactive surface and see the relationships between those projects. Move cards over the surface and the network relationships (e.g. inspired by, social relation) follow. The more cards that you throw on, the more relationships that form.

    Here's the demo video:

    Pretty. I would love to have one of these as my coffee table (sort of like the Microsoft one).

    [Thanks, Moritz]

  • Art of Mathematics – Visualization of Dynamical Systems

    September 18, 2008  |  Data Art

    Dynamical systems are mathematical models used to describe the time-dependent position of a point's position in ambient space. For example, a dynamical system could be used to describe the movement of a swinging pendulum. The way the pendulum moves is based on the laws of physics, but trajectory, velocity, acceleration, etc changes over time. Over at the University of Liverpool is a series of visualizations by mathematicians around the world that shows such dynamical systems.

    Lasse Rempe, a mathematician, describes the beauty of these visualization in this video on the BBC. Many more beautiful pieces in the video and explanation of the underlying structures.

  • Tree Map to Show Losses by Major Companies

    September 17, 2008  |  Infographics

    Taking after Map of the Market, the New York Times uses tree maps to show a year of heavy losses by major companies. It's a pretty sad state of affairs. Content aside though, this is certainly one of the reasons the Times is so popular among the infographics crowd. Data visualization isn't just bar graphs and time series plots.
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  • How Consumers Around the World Spend Their Money

    September 17, 2008  |  Infographics

    This pseudo-map graphic from The New York Times shows how consumers in different countries spend their money. Squares represent selected countries and are sized and colored according to spending in 2007. As you might expect, the United States does some heavy spending on clothing and footwear.

    Does the graphic remind you of anything? The Times put up a different pseudo-map in force-directed graph format for the olympic medals. What do you prefer – pseudo-map or traditional?

  • How Eating Ice Cream and Feeling Gross Leads to Alcholism

    September 16, 2008  |  Infographics

    This stream of consciousness video (below) from Current is complete with animated infographics and some lovely narration. I have no idea why the video was made or if there was a story behind where the video came from. However, I do know that the narrator's voice is both reassuring and soothing, and I am ten times smarter after watching it.
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  • OneGeology Wants to Be Geological Equivalent of Google Maps

    September 11, 2008  |  Data Sources, Mapping

    There's lots of free geographical data about what's going on at the surface of our planet. It's a different story for what going on underneath though. OneGeology aims to be the solution to that problem.

    OneGeology is an international initiative of the geological surveys of the world and a flagship project of the 'International Year of Planet Earth'. Its aim is to create dynamic geological map data of the world available via the web. This will create a focus for accessing geological information for everyone.

    I've never been one for the geology, but if the data (and interactive maps) were easily accessible, there certainly would be a peak in interest.

    [via msnbc | Thanks, Samantha]

  • See the World Through SimCity’s Eyes – One Up On OnionMap

    September 10, 2008  |  Mapping, Online Applications

    Michael comments, "Onionmap is nothing when compared to this Chinese site...They've practically mapped out the entire Shanghai (and quite a few other China cities) in a SimCity-like fashion! Amazing stuff!" He's completely right. Edushi maps Shanghai with great detail. While OnionMap looks like Google Maps with SimCity sprinkles, Edushi is just straight up SimCity.

    Unfortunately my three years of Chinese classes in high school did me no good, and I don't understand a thing on the site. Maybe someone can translate and let us know what Edushi is all about. Chinese CitySearch?

    [Thanks, Michael]

  • Interactive Graph Visualization System – Skyrails

    September 8, 2008  |  Network Visualization

    Skyrails is an interactive graph visualization system that looks a lot like a video game. Explore relationships, visit nodes, and immerse yourself in the data. As I watch the demo video on YouTube, I feel like I'm seeing another world.

    You've got the standard ball and stick view. Whether it's useful for analysis or deeper understanding of relationships between whatever is up for debate, but one thing's for sure – it looks cool. Plus the code is open source.

    [Thanks, Atilla]

  • Flowchart Shows You What to Say During Sex

    September 5, 2008  |  Misc. Visualization

    This flowchart shows you what to say during private time with your special friend. Say goodbye to confusion and hello to deep conversations. Start from the middle of the chart and work your way out. Never again will you be at a loss for words.
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  • How to Create a Real-Time Web Traffic Map for Your Site

    September 3, 2008  |  Mapping, Projects

    I was exchanging email with Rob a few days ago, and he brought up that I might see a slight boost in traffic from Australia because he had spread the word (thanks!) at a statistics conference. I immediately went over to Google Analytics, and indeed, there was an increase in traffic from the land down under.
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  • Tracking Hurricane Gustav – How Hard is it Going to Hit?

    August 31, 2008  |  Mapping

    Stamen has taken a step towards the concrete with their recent Hurricane Tracker for MSNBC. From what I can tell, it updates every couple of hours or so. The tracker shows where Hurricane Gustav has been and where it's headed and provides information on wind speed, ground speed, and location.

    From the map we see a development from tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea, to a big category 4 over Pinar Del Rio, and then something between a category 3 and 2 as it moves over New Orleans. Gustav dwindles to a tropical storm as it moves towards Dallas. With mandatory evacuations of New Orleans starting yesterday, here's to hoping everyone finds somewhere safe to stay.

  • How Open Should Open Source Data Visualization Be?

    August 29, 2008  |  Visualization

    I used to ride my bike to school, and I always forgot my U-lock. Instead of riding back for it, I'd just stash my bike unlocked in between a cluster of bikes. I told my friend jokingly, "It'll be OK. 98% of people are good." One day I got out of class, and my bike was stolen.

    I was cleaning up some Actionscript in preparation for a tutorial post on how to make your own animated Walmart map, but a couple of bad memories involving stolen code and bad knockoffs (of my work) stopped me midway. I had to think:

    Is releasing my code the best thing to do?

    I'm sure the consensus is a resounding yes, but what's to stop some lazy person from ripping off my code and pawning it off (or worse, selling it) as their own? What if I want to sell my visualizations? I am after all a lowly graduate student. It'd be nice to have another income stream.

    On the other hand, had others before me not released their work under that wonderful BSD license, I would not be able to do what I do. At least not as easily. Modest Maps? Free. TweenFilterLite? Free. Flare Visualization Toolkit? Free. If I don't follow suit, does that make me selfish? Yes, it does.

    Giving Back to the Community

    I've heard that phrase, giving back, so many times in both the real-life sense and the digital one, but it never made much sense to me. I mean, I got it, but I never really got it.

    Perhaps I never understood it, because I wasn't using much of the community's resources nor did I have anything to give back. I have something to give back now. I can help people learn in the same way that others before me have and still do. I'm incredibly thankful to those who maintain these open source projects and still help me out from time to time when there's really nothing in it for them.

    The least I can do is continue to promote this idea of openness and help this small field of data visualization flourish into what it deserves to be. It's why I blog, and it's why I should give back, but to what extent?

    Making the Case for Open Source Data Visualization

    My dilemma brought me back to a Data Evolution post on open source data visualization. It highlighted three things:

    1. Open Tools – As in freely available software tools like R and Processing.
    2. Open Code – How often have you seen a visualization and wondered, "How did they do that? If only the code were available."
    3. Open Data – Oh so important in data visualization. The core. Open data means more people can try out different methods.

    It's not always possible to attain all three. For example, we pay money for software because the companies would not exist otherwise. It's a business, and to think that software companies would develop a bunch of free software is unrealistic. Also, oftentimes, data just can't be shared – usually because of privacy issues. Lastly, open code doesn't make sense a lot of the time. The DE post grades The New York Times with a D for openness, but they're a news business, not a visualization repository.

    While we can't always attain all of three things, there's no reason why we can't try to strive towards that ideal. As someone I know likes to say – strive for perfection. You might not reach that standard, but you could end up with something close.

    Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.

    Tweeting Thoughts

    I of course tweeted this in the middle of the night while watching the day's remaining olympic events - to release code or not to release code. Here are are some of the replies:

    @rpj: To release, always! (When legally possible.)

    @ehrenc: re: code. You could always release half the code :)

    @pims to release code. There's some brilliant people around that can build on top of what you did. Open world :)

    As for me, well, let's just say you should expect to see tutorials – complete with code – in the coming weeks.

  • Look at My Neato Lollipop Chart – Widgenie

    August 27, 2008  |  Ugly Charts

    As some commented on an earlier post, FusionCharts provides an easy way for people to hack together statistical graphics - sometimes not so attractively - and put the results on their websites. Widgenie serves as case in point. The concept of the application is all well and good. Upload some data and embed the "interactive" graphic on your blog, website, etc.

    The realization of that idea however, needs some work. Aside from my difficulties logging on, changing my password, and non-flexible data upload, the widgets are, for the most part, just FusionCharts out of the box. Like the lollipop I made (below)?

    [via ReadWriteWeb | Thanks, IA_chrissie]

  • Plummeting Infographics from I.O.U.S.A – A Nation in Debt

    August 26, 2008  |  Infographics

    I haven't seen I.O.U.S.A. yet, but from the online bonus clips, it looks like it could be a good watch for you infographics junkies. The documentary examines the growing national debt and the consequences it will have on its citizens, so the source material sort of lends itself to plummeting time series charts with dramatic flare.

    Here's one showing personal savings rate over time:

    Deficits and social security over time:

    Debt-to-GDP projections:

    A $53 Trillion Federal Financial Hole:

    Those are just the bonus clips. I'm sure there are plenty more in the actual documentary.

    [Thanks, @samkim]

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