• Why Isn’t Data Visualization More Popular?

    May 14, 2008  |  Visualization

    Todd provides 5 reasons why data visualization isn't more prevalent:

    1. People don't know what data visualization is.
    2. Bad visualization has skewed perception of what data visualization is and what it can be used for.
    3. People can't interpret charts or new data representations.
    4. Visualization is difficult to create, but easy to copy.
    5. People won't pay for visualization.

    While all the reasons do have some truth, there are a couple things worth adding.

    People Do Know What Data Visualization Is

    People have some kind of idea of what data is and know that you can get information out of it somehow. Maybe it's with a graph or it could be with something more elaborate, but most people will get it. They know what data visualization is. They just don't know what it's called. In other words, they know. They just don't know they know.

    People Will Pay (A Lot) for Visualization

    With all the data out there and the constantly increasing volumes of it, more people want to understand without having to learn formal statistical methods. How can they understand it? Visualization of course. The growing number of examples I've covered here on FlowingData show that there is a growing demand. After all, a lot of stuff I've covered here was commissioned.

    Not Too Worried

    Anyways, even though not everyone knows about data visualization (yet), I'm not too worried about it. There's just too much data for people not to care... or am I wasting my time? No. If they don't care, we'll show them why they should.

  • Flocking Up the National Nine News

    May 13, 2008  |  Infographics

    At the bottom of each article on National Nine News (Australian MSN), there's a button to "Flock It!" which is like favorit-ing a news story.

    Flock Button

    Flock ItThe more people who flock a story, the higher up the flock list the story goes. In the sidebar of each story is an interactive graphic that shows readers flocking around the news and stories getting highlighted. The larger the bubble, the more people who have flocked it; story bubbles light up orange when someone flocks it. The site isn't showing any larger sizes, but a full screen version could be fun. Maybe a screensaver.

    MSN seems to have have this whole news exploration thing going on lately. I like it.

    [Thanks, Andrew]

  • Mapping the Human Diseasome With a Network Graph

    May 9, 2008  |  Infographics

    diseasome

    Matthew Block and Jonathan Corum from The New York Times use a network graph to map diseases and the genes they have in common. Color indicates the type of disease, circles represent diseases, and gray squares are genes that the diseases have in common. The graphic has a nice magnifying glass zooming feature, so that you too can be a biologist.

  • NewsWare Launches to Explore and Interact with News on msnbc.com

    May 6, 2008  |  Infographics

    NewsWare was launched yesterday on msnbc.com. It's a set of apps, games, and widgets to interact with the news. The three main points of interest are the Spectra (pictured above) and two games that resemble a couple of popular arcade games infused with news.
    Continue Reading

  • American Consumers Spend More Money On Cheese than On Computers

    May 5, 2008  |  Infographics

    consumer-spending

    In a deviation from the usual pie chart and standard tree map, this graphic from The New York Times resembles something of a stained glass window - a really pretty piece of work. Amanda Cox, with Matthew Bloch and Shan Carter, designed the interactive graphic that lets you explore how American consumers spend their money.
    Continue Reading

  • Love, Hate, Think, Believe, Feel and Wish on Twitter

    April 30, 2008  |  Data Art

    Inspired by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar's We Feel Fine, and using data from summize, twistori shows what people love, hate, think, believe, feel, and wish for on Twitter. Given the conversational feel of Twitter, twistori shows an almost natural flow of emotion and like Twittervision, is sort of mesmerizing.

    [via Twitter]

  • All 26 Million Road Segments in Continental United States

    April 28, 2008  |  Mapping

    road-map

    Ben Fry maps every road segment in All Streets, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's TIGER/Line data. There's no actual map or drawn borders; instead Ben chooses to let the data do all the work, and the results are very pretty. Sometimes you don't need a map to map.

    I was somewhat surprised to see California's low road density compared to the eastern half of the country, but I guess that's because of all the freeways. What's more surprising though is that line down the middle. Roads all of a sudden go dense somewhere around North Dakota. Is that really what it's like? Does farming suddenly stop and urban life begins in these areas?

    Poor Alaska and Hawaii, with too few roads, were left out.

  • Poverty Statistics that Make Sense – Welcome to Povertyville and Slumtown

    April 25, 2008  |  Statistical Visualization

    Dan Beech represents worldwide poverty in this video, which is actually a 3-dimensional bar chart with some flare:

    Welcome to Povertyville, Slumtown, and Low Income city. I'm not sure what to think. Should I laugh? Should I cry? I don't know. What do you think?

    In this genre of over-produced graphs, Povertyville reminds me of the real estate roller coaster, a dramatic 3-D time series plot:

  • Rolling Out Your Own Online Maps and Graphs with HTML/CSS

    April 24, 2008  |  Mapping, Statistical Visualization

    Wilson Miner and Paul Smith, two co-founders of Everyblock, post tutorials and a little bit of their own experiences rolling out their own maps and creating graphs with web standards.

    Why Not Go With Google Maps?

    Paul gets into the mechanics of how you can use your own maps discussing the map stack - browser UI, tile cache, map server, and finally, the data. My favorite part though was his reasons for going with their own maps:

    Ask yourself this question: why would you, as a website developer who controls all aspects of your site, from typography to layout, to color palette to photography, to UI functionality, allow a big, alien blob to be plopped down in the middle of your otherwise meticulously designed application? Think about it. You accept whatever colors, fonts, and map layers Google chooses for their map tiles. Sure, you try to rein it back in with custom markers and overlays, but at the root, the core component—the map itself—is out of your hands.

    Because it's so easy to put in Google Maps instead of make your own (although it is getting a little easier), everything starts to look and feel the same and we get stuck in this Google Maps-confined interaction funk. Don't get me wrong. Google Maps does have its uses and it is a great application. I look up directions with it all the time, but we should also keep in mind that there's more to mapping than bubble markers all in the color of the Google flag.

    Remember: a little bit of design goes a long way.

    Data Visualization with Web Standards

    Wilson provides a tutorial for horizontal bar charts and sparklines with nothing but HTML and CSS. Why would you want to do this when you could use some fancy graphing API? Using Everyblock as an example, data visualization can serve as part of a navigation system as opposed to a standalone graphic:

    Everyblock Graphs

    Sometimes the visualization isn't at the center of attention.

    Make sure you check out Everyblock, a site that is all about the data in your very own neighborhood, to see these maps and graphs in action.

    [Thanks, Jodi]

  • Showing the Obama-Clinton Divide in Decision Tree Infographic

    April 23, 2008  |  Infographics

    Amanda Cox, of The New York Times, made another excellent graphic (and I wouldn't expect anything less). We see an entire story between Obama and Clinton - positions taken, counties won, and counties lost. Go ahead and take a look. Words bad. Picture good. Ooga. Booga.

    [via Infographics News]

  • Hierarchical Glossary as Interactive Network Graphs

    April 22, 2008  |  Visualization

    Moritz has been working on visualization of a hierarchical glossary carefully named "Glossary Visualization" versions 2-5. Not sure where version 1 is. Being a network graph, I can see this getting chaotic when there are more words (or categories) involved, but then again, maybe that's all the words. In either case, it beats browsing through words in a dictionary; although, these prototypes don't include definitions yet.

    In the most recent version, words are represented as a DOI tree showing only the categories. Click on a category and view the sub-categories.

    glossary visualization

    All four versions were implemented using the recently-mentioned Flare visualization toolkit.

    What do you think - cluttered or just right?

  • Facebook Lexicon – Trends for Writings on the Wall

    April 17, 2008  |  Network Visualization

    Facebook recently released Lexicon which is like a Google Trends or Technorati for wall posts. Type in a word or a group of words, and you can see the buzz for those terms in a time series plot. Daniel sent me this excellent example. Type in party tonight, hangover and you'll get the above graph. Notice the Saturday spikes for party tonight and the Sunday spikes for hangover? Here's another one for finals:

    Facebook Lexicon

    It's interesting to see what people are talking about, and being Facebook walls, there's this realness to the charts (or maybe that's just me).

    Go ahead. Give Lexicon a try. What interesting queries can you find?

    P.S. You have to be logged in to use it.

    [Thanks, Daniel]

  • 3 Rules of Thumb When Designing Visualization

    April 17, 2008  |  Visualization

    Bernard Kerr, the lead designer for del.icio.us, gave an interesting talk (below) focused on remail (mentioned here) and tagorbitals. At the end, he offers three important lessons.

    Reduce Multidimensional Data

    After showing many thread arc versions, Kerr says that when you are dealing with multidimensional data, pick two variables; otherwise, you're going to end up with a big mess. He says this literally, but don't forget that you can also reduce dimensionality with super special and magical statistical methods.

    Use Real Data

    You won't know what you're really dealing with until you have the real data. You can spend lots of time guessing what the data are going to be, but it's the real data that will eventually drive your design. This goes for statistics too. Real data leads to real analysis.

    Try Adobe Illustrator

    Adobe Illustrator offers a javascript interface, so try that out before opening Processing or Flex Builder, and programming through the midnight hours. Illlustrator is of course also good for static mockups and brainstorming. My work flow usually starts with paper and pencil, to Illustrator, and then to the programming. Some people go straight to code, but that's never worked well for me.

    What rules of thumb do you follow?

    Here's the talk in full. It's pretty interesting, if you've got about 25 minutes to spare.

    [via infosthetics]

  • Data Visualization Blogs You Might Not Know About

    April 15, 2008  |  Visualization

    We all know about information aesthetics, but what other visualization blogs are out there? While writing for FlowingData I've come across some good ones as people send me links (hint) or that I've just randomly found. Here are some of the visualization (and mapping) blogs that I enjoy.

    • Strange Maps - Lots of unique maps from ads, books, papers, etc with very informed commentary.
    • Well-formed Data - Moritz is interested in interface design, visualization, statistics and data mining and is a freelance visualizer.
    • Random Etc. - Tom occasionally updates his blog with thoughts, resources, and, well, random etc.
    • Serial Consign - Greg talks about design and research with some visualization mixed in.
    • AnyGeo - Covers everything geospatial, although I do wish Glenn would switch to full feeds.

    What are some of your favorites that others might not know about?

  • Mapping America’s Most Sinful Cities

    April 10, 2008  |  Mapping

    Forbes, with the help of Mavin Digital, ranked and mapped cities based on the seven deadly sins - lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride.

    For each sin we stretched our imagination to find a workable proxy--murder rates for wrath, per capita billionaires for avarice--then culled the available data sources to rank the cities. Some of the results were surprising: Salt Lake City as America's Vainest City. Some were not: Detroit as America's Most Murderous.

    It's always good to remember to take these with a grain of salt, since you don't really know much about the metrics used and how useful these metrics really are. Usually, rankings like these involve a lot of assumptions about the data.

    They are of course still interesting and fun to look at though. Apparently, I moved from one America's most gluttonous cities to one of the most violent and lustful.

    Gluttony

    Lust

  • Personal Transactions as a Network Graph Over Time

    April 8, 2008  |  Data Art

    Transactions Graph, by Burak Arikan, is a piece placing personal transactions in network graph. Each node represents a transaction while connections (or edges) shows a relationship between transactions based on time and spending category. The thicker the edge the greater the total of the two connected transactions. Viewers are also able to scroll through time to watch how transactions evolve.
    Continue Reading

  • Regularities and Patterns Within a Literary Space

    April 7, 2008  |  Data Art

    Stefanie Posavec, maps literary works at the Sheffield Galleries On the Map exhibit. There are several parts to Stefanie's piece mapping sentence length, writing style, and structure. From the looks of things, it looks like the parsing process was manual and involved a lot of highlighting and circling of things. I could be wrong though. For some reason, long and manual labor makes me appreciate things more.
    Continue Reading

  • Chernoff Faces to Display Baseball Managers From 2007 MLB Season

    April 4, 2008  |  Statistical Visualization

    Check out this lovely use of Chernoff Faces by Steve Wang of Swarthmore College. This method of visualization was developed by none other than mathematician-statistician-physicist Herman Chernoff in 1973. These faces were designed on the premise that people could easily understand facial expressions. With that in mind, Chernoff used facial characteristics to represent multivariate data.

    If you like, you can make your own Chernoff faces with this R library.

  • 21 (Eco)Visualizations for Energy Consumption Awareness

    April 3, 2008  |  Visualization

    Energy consumption grows more and more concern, and with the popularity of Mr. Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, just about everyone is at the very least, semi-aware of energy consumption. These 21 visualizations and designs were created to increase that awareness, so that maybe, a few more people will turn off the light when they leave a room. I think Peter Crabb said it best (which I borrowed from Tiffany Holmes' ecoviz paper):

    [P]eople do not use energy; they use devices and products. How devices and products are designed determines how we use them, which in turn determines rates of energy depletion.

    Here they are - 21 dashboards, ambient devices, games, and calculators. Continue Reading

  • World Internet City-to-City Connections and Density Maps

    April 1, 2008  |  Data Sources, Mapping

    Chris Harrison put together a series of Internet maps that show how cities are interconnected by router configuration. Similar to Aaron Koblin's Flight Patterns, Chris chose to map only the data, which makes an image that looks a lot like strands of silk stretched from city to city. With these maps, viewers gain a sense of connectivity in the world - and as expected the U.S. and Europe are a lot brighter than the rest.
    Continue Reading

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