• Browse Political Bias on Memeorandum – Greasemonkey Script

    October 13, 2008  |  Statistical Visualization

    Memeorandum shows up-to-date posts from leading political bloggers, and it is well-known that political bloggers are often very partisan. It's not always obvious to new readers though which side of the line a blogger sits on. You certainly can't always tell just from a headline on Memeorandum. So Andy Baio, with the help of del.icio.us founder, Joshua Schachter, created a Greasemonkey script (and Firefox plugin) to do just that. Simply install the script and browse popular political articles by their bias.

    With the help of del.icio.us founder Joshua Schachter, we used a recommendation algorithm to score every blog on Memeorandum based on their linking activity in the last three months. Then I wrote a Greasemonkey script to pull that information out of Google Spreadsheets, and colorize Memeorandum on-the-fly. Left-leaning blogs are blue and right-leaning blogs are red, with darker colors representing strong biases.

    Just a quick glance at Memeorandum with the plugin installed shows the magic works.

    How it Was Done

    Of course this isn't just magic. It's not human-powered. It's a data-driven algorithm. It's statistics. The data are the articles that the Memeorandum-listed blogs link to, so just imagine a giant matrix with number of links. They then use singular value decomposition (SVD) to reduce that matrix to one dimension which they use to estimate where on the political spectrum any given blog on Memeorandum sits.

    All you statistics readers (and maybe some of the computer scientists) should be familiar with SVD. I learned about it and played with it quite a bit during my first year in graduate school. Anyways, it's cool to see statistics at work and how it can be useful in visualization. A lot of the time visualization projects are about getting all the data on the screen, but with a little bit of know-how (or help from someone who has it) you can produce projects that let the computer do a lot of the pattern-finding work and don't make the user work so hard.

    By the way, Andy's blog Waxy has become one of my favorite blogs as of late, so if political bias isn't your thing, I'd still encourage you to go check it out.

  • Daily Design Workout – DONE by Jonas Buntenbruch

    October 9, 2008  |  Data Art

    DONE is a sketching project by Jonas Buntenbruch. He takes 30-60 minutes per day and puts his design skills to work. He began at the beginning of this year on January 1 and has produced a sketch/design for every day so far.

    Some of his work is charts and graphs, but most are of the typography, cartoon, and icon variety. Nevertheless, it's a great way to hone the design skills. You learn what works, what doesn't work, and skills that need sharpening. Learn by doing has always been my philosophy - mostly because I suck at learning by listening, writing, and reading. Seriously. I took a learning test in fourth grade that told me so.

    Can someone please do a data visualization per day? Don't forget to make it awesome.

    [Thanks, Adam]

  • Commercial Air Traffic Seen Around the World

    October 8, 2008  |  Mapping

    Commercial air traffic

    This computer simulation (video below) by Zhaw shows worldwide commercial flights over a 24-hour period. It's been making the blog rounds lately. Watch as flights start in the morning in the western hemisphere, and as the sun starts to come up in the east, more flights begin in the east. I'm not sure if we're seeing actual GPS traces or just interpolated flight paths from point-to-point data, but my guess is the latter. Does anyone understand the language on Zhaw?
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  • May the Tallest and Fattest Win the Presidency

    October 7, 2008  |  Infographics

    taller

    OPEN N.Y. put together an amusing (and informative) graphic for a New York Times op-chart. It shows the height and weight of presidential candidates dating back to 1896 when William McKinley, weighing in at 5 feet 7 inches, won the election to become 25th president of the United States. The tall lead 17-8 and the heaver lead 18-8. William J. Bryan didn't stand a chance. Will Barack Obama add to the big and tall's lead or will John McCain win one for the little guy?

    [Thanks, Tom]

  • Maps for Advocacy – Beginner’s Guide to Mapping

    October 2, 2008  |  Mapping

    In a follow up to Visualizing Information for Advocacy, the Tactical Technology Collective recently announced Maps for Advocacy: An Introduction to Geographical Mapping Techniques.

    The booklet is an effective guide to using maps in advocacy. The mapping process for advocacy is explained vividly through case studies, descriptions of procedures and methods, a review of data sources as well as a glossary of mapping terminology. Scattered through the booklet are links to websites which afford a glance at a few prolific mapping efforts.

    While the example maps look very Googley and won't impress too many in the online mapping world, there are still some good links in there for data resources, terminology, and how maps play a role in displaying information.

  • 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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