• GPS shoes show you the way home

    July 23, 2013  |  Data Art

    GPS shoes

    Inspired by The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy clicks her heels to get home, artist Dominic Wilcox created "No Place Like Home," a pair of GPS shoes to show you the way.
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  • Climbing the income ladder

    July 22, 2013  |  Infographics

    Climbing income ladder

    In a study conducted by researchers at Harvard and UC Berkeley, data shows spatial variations for the chances of rising out of poverty into higher income brackets. The New York Times reports:

    Climbing the income ladder occurs less often in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, the data shows, with the odds notably low in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. By contrast, some of the highest rates occur in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota.

    "Where you grow up matters," said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study's authors. "There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty."

    Two things. First, the NYT piece is really nice. Graphics and interactives are typically shown separate from the written story, but NYT has been shifting as of late and I'm sure other publications will follow. (Although, as you can see in the credits, eight people made the graphics, and most places don't have such resources yet.) The story is all tied together, so you read and interact in a continuous flow.

    Second, the Harvard/UC Berkeley research group released the data, so you can have a go yourself.

  • Rappers’ claimed wealth versus actual wealth

    July 19, 2013  |  Statistical Visualization

    Actual rapper wealth

    Allison McCann for Businessweek graphed rappers' claimed wealth in their songs versus their actual wealth.

    Fresh off of Jay-Z's new album is the track Versus, on which he chides fellow hip-hop artists and their dubious tales of extraordinary wealth: "The truth in my verses, versus, your metaphors about what your net worth is." Like Jay-Z, we’ve long been skeptical of just how wealthy some hip-hop stars claim to be, so we created a way to separate the truly rich from the loud-mouth lyricists.

    As you'd expect, some rappers tend to exaggerate. Speaking of which, this seems like a good time to revisit the map that shows the area codes where Ludacris claims to have hoes. Unfortunately, there is no data to verify or debunk.

  • Movie sounds

    July 17, 2013  |  Data Art

    Moviesound is a goofy yet charming look at sounds in movies. Imagine sound waves visualized and then replace some of the spikes with illustrations that have to do with the movie of interest, and there you go. The project is mostly static posters, but the handful of short videos are the best. Here's the sound of Darth Vader breathing:

    The Jurassic Park poster is pretty good too.

  • Make your own US rivers and roads maps

    July 16, 2013  |  Mapping

    US rivers map

    Inspired by Nelson Minar's map of US rivers, Mike Bostock demonstrates how to generate your own TopoJSON from the same river data. As indicated by the name, the file format is a way to encode topology, and it does so in a compact way.
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  • What is wrong with these charts?

    July 15, 2013  |  Ugly Charts

    Speaking the world

    Whoa. There are a lot of things wrong with this chart. Gold star for every mistake that you find. And there are many stars to hand out.
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  • Transit times in NYC

    July 11, 2013  |  Mapping

    Transit times NYC

    As more New Yorkers move farther away from Manhattan, transit times grow in importance. WNYC made a nice interactive map that shows how far one has to travel based on location. Simply click a location on the map and colors indicate how far it takes to get to your surroundings.

    It reminds me of Trulia's commute maps, which is the same idea but they estimate travel time for the entire country. Although I'm not sure if the data sources behind the maps are the same, the two maps seem to spit out similar results.

  • Visualizing uncertainty still unsolved problem

    July 10, 2013  |  Statistical Visualization

    Vivien Marx in Nature Methods:

    Data from an experiment may appear rock solid. Upon further examination, the data may morph into something much less firm. A knee-jerk reaction to this conundrum may be to try and hide uncertain scientific results, which are unloved fellow travelers of science. After all, words can afford ambiguity, but with visuals, "we are damned to be concrete," says Bang Wong, who is the creative director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The alternative is to face the ambiguity head-on through visual means.

    I still struggle with uncertainty and visualization. I haven't seen many worthwhile solutions other than the old standbys, boxplots and histograms, which show distributions. But how many people understand spread, skew, etc? It's a small proportion, which poses an interesting challenge.

  • Global migration and debt

    July 9, 2013  |  Network Visualization

    GED Viz

    Global Economic Dynamics, by the Bertelsmann Foundation in collaboration with 9elements, Raureif, and Boris Müller, provides an explorer that shows country relationships through migration and debt. Inspired by a New York Times graphic from a few years ago, which was a static look at debt, the GED interactive allows you to select among 46 countries and browse data from 2000 through 2010.

    Each outer bar represents a country, and each connecting line either indicates migration between two countries or bank claims, depending on which you choose to look at. You can also select several country indicators, which are represented with bubbles. (The image above shows GDP.) Although, that part of the visualization is tough to read with multiple indicators and countries.

    The strength of the visualization is in the connections and the ability to browse the data by year. The transitions are smooth so that it's easy to follow along through time. The same goes for when you select and deselect countries.

  • An eerie view of the linked city

    July 9, 2013  |  Mapping

    Watch_Dogs

    Watch_Dogs is a video game that imagines Chicago as a city where everyone and everything is linked through a central network. You play as a hacker who has access to all this information. This of course is fiction, but WeareData, also by the game makers, shows Paris, Berlin, and London, as if it were the Chicago in the game using real-world data.

    Watch_Dogs WeareData is the first website to gather publicly available data about Paris, London and Berlin, in one location. Each of the three towns is recreated on a 3D map, allowing the user to discover the data that organises and runs modern cities today, in real time. It also displays information about the inhabitants of these cities, via their social media activity.

    The ambient music, sound effects, and aesthetics provide a eerie feel to the view, as if you're spying on these cities from above. Although as you click items on the map, you'll see the data is not nearly as ominous.

  • Map shows how to say “beer” in Europe

    July 8, 2013  |  Mapping

    Eurobeer map

    Feòrag NicBhrìde provides a handy map on how to say beer in European countries. This is important. [via Boing Boing]

  • A people-centric view of your Gmail inbox

    July 5, 2013  |  Network Visualization

    Immersion by the MIT Media Lab is a view into your inbox that shows who you interact with via email over the years.

    Immersion is an invitation to dive into the history of your email life in a platform that offers you the safety of knowing that you can always delete your data.

    Just like a cubist painting, Immersion presents users with a number of different perspectives of their email data. It provides a tool for self-reflection at a time where the zeitgeist is one of self-promotion. It provides an artistic representation that exists only in the presence of the visitor. It helps explore privacy by showing users data that they have already shared with others. Finally, it presents users wanting to be more strategic with their professional interactions, with a map to plan more effectively who they connect with.

    The base view is a network diagram where each node represents someone you've exchanged email with. The more emails between you and that person, the bigger the node, and people who tend to email each other (I'm guessing a count of CCs and group emails) are placed closer to each other. There's also some clustering going on, which does a nice job of putting people in groups, such as family and work, and a time slider lets you see these relationships over time.

    We've seen views of our inbox before and they usually just show simple time series charts and people who you email most. Immersion does a bit more and is a nice way to reflect. Even though I stopped using Gmail as my main address a couple of years ago, the college, pre-grad school, and early grad school years were obvious.

  • Instagram cities

    July 3, 2013  |  Visualization

    Instagram cities

    The collaborative project Phototrails is a visual exploration of millions of Instagram photos, building on previous work with ImagePlot, which lets you see a lot of photos at once.

    How do we explore social medias visual data which contains billions of photographs shared by hundreds of millions of contributors? What insights can we gain from this type of massive collective visual production?

    Phototrails is a research project that uses experimental media visualization techniques for exploring visual patterns, dynamics and structures of planetry-scale user-generated shared photos. Using a sample of 2.3 million Instagram photos from 13 cities around the world, we show how temporal changes in number of shared photos, their locations, and visual characteristics can uncover social, cultural and political insights about people's activity around the world.

    The charts above, starting from the top left and moving clockwise, are a sample of 50,000 Instagram photos each from San Francisco, Tokyo, Bangkok, and New York City, organized by hue and brightness.

    The bottom two look a lot brighter than the top two, but I suspect that's because hue median is used for the former and hue mean for the latter. That's probably also why you see more distinct lines on the bottom, especially towards the edges, whereas the top spectrum is more continuous. Then you have a nice sudden break in color for the black and white photos.

  • Yelp maps words used in reviews

    July 2, 2013  |  Mapping

    Yelp word map

    We typically think of Yelp reviews as aggregates on a restaurant or business-specific level. Search for restaurants on Yelp, and you have an overall rating for each result. But zoom out a level and aggregate over geographic areas instead of specific locations, and you get a better idea of the makeup of a city. This is what the Yelp Word Map provides.

    The Yelp Word Map shows where words such as hipster, pasta, and dim sum, are used in reviews, so you end up with a visual of where the pockets in a city are.

    The map above shows where pasta is often used in San Francisco reviews. Of course, the only maps that really matter though are the ones for dim sum and noodles. [via Waxy]

  • Mapping all the rivers in the United States

    July 1, 2013  |  Mapping

    All Rivers - California

    Inspired by Ben Fry's All Streets map, which showed every road in the United States, Nelson Minar mapped every river to similar effect. As you'd expect, the geography of the United States emerges without actually mapping locations.

    We saw a similar map from National Geographic, which showed the rivers of the world and took home an award for best map of 2010 at Malofiej. So Minar's map isn't especially new, but the good bit is that Minar posted a tutorial and his code on github, so that you can see how such a map is made.

    Most of the actual cartography is being done in Javascript, in the Leaflet and Polymaps drawing scripts. This tutorial code does very little, mostly just drawing blue lines in varying thicknesses. In addition the Leaflet version has a simple popup when rivers are clicked. With the actual vector geometry and metadata available in Javascript a lot more could be done in the presentation; highlighting rivers, interactive filtering by Strahler number, combination with other vector data sources, etc.

  • Housing price changes

    June 28, 2013  |  Infographics

    Shan Carter and Kevin Quealy for The New York Times updated their housing prices graphic from a couple of years ago.

    Rise and fall of housing prices

    Whereas the original interactive showed price changes from only one point of reference, the updated one lets you shift the point of reference so you can see how prices have shifted in major cities since the date of sale.

    I found myself brushing the slider back and forth just for kicks.

  • Earth’s skies with Saturn’s rings

    June 27, 2013  |  Visualization

    Rings over Guatemala

    Illustrator Ron Miller imagined what Earth's skies would look like if we had Saturn's rings.

    Now, Miller brings his visualizations back to Earth for a series exploring what our skies would look like with Saturn’s majestic rings. Miller strived to make the images scientifically accurate, adding nice touches like orange-pink shadows resulting from sunlight passing through the Earth’s atmosphere. He also shows the rings from a variety of latitudes and landscapes, from the U.S. Capitol building to Mayan ruins in Guatemala.

    Miller has a large portfolio of space-related illustrations also worth a look. [via @golan]

  • Atlas of literal place names

    June 25, 2013  |  Mapping

    USA

    We go places. They have names. What do these names mean though? The Atlas of True Names by cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust can help you with that, replacing place names with the meaning of place names. California becomes the Land of the Successors, Texas is the Land of Friends, but forget all that. Who's up for a visit to Illinois, the Land of Those Who Speak Normally?

    See more detail for the United States here. There are also versions for the British Isles, Europe, and the world, all available for purchase to adorn your walls. [via Slate]

  • Contrailz: Detailed flight patterns at major airports

    June 24, 2013  |  Mapping

    Contrailz London flights

    Alexey Papulovskiy collected flight data from Plane Finder for a month, which essentially gives you a bunch of points in space over time. Then he mapped the data in Contrailz.

    Turns out, besides Flight Levels (FL) (which are indicated on my map by dots' color: red ones stand for lower altitudes and blue — for higher) planes have pretty specific "roads" and "highways" as well as "intersections" and "junctions". You can see this for yourself by taking a look at the Russian part of the map: it's less "crowded", so the picture is as clear as it gets. The sky above Moscow area looks particularly interesting: civil flights are allowed there only since March 2013 and only with an altitude of 27.000 ft or higher.

    Aaron Koblin's Flight Patterns always comes to mind immediately when I see flight data, and Contrailz of course looks similar, but the latter brings in European flight patterns, too, which makes it worth a gander.

    By the way, you should also check out Plane Finder if you haven't seen that yet. It shows planes currently in flight, and there's a lot of them. [Thanks, Alexey]

  • Income inequality, real and personal

    June 24, 2013  |  Infographics

    Income lost to top 10

    In a different take on the income inequality issue, the Economic Policy Institute, in collaboration with Periscopic, created Inequality Is.

    The Inequality.is website brings clarity to the national dialogue on wage and income inequality, using interactive tools and videos to tell the story of how we arrived at the state of inequality we find today and what can be done to reverse course and ensure workers get their fair share.

    Inequality is: real, personal, expensive, created, and fixable. These are the categories the interactive takes you through to explain the subject. The first part reminds you of the video we saw on wealth distribution, which showed what people thought was an ideal distribution of wealth, what they thought it was in real life, and then what it actually was. However, in this interactive, you're the one answering, which sort of sets the stage for the rest of the interactive. The goal is to make the data more relatable.

    Be sure to go through the whole piece. It rounds off nicely with a video explanation with public policy professor Robert Reich and ways to shift the inequality in the other direction.

Unless otherwise noted, graphics and words by me are licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC. Contact original authors for everything else.