• A high resolution tour of the vegetation on Earth

    June 20, 2013  |  Mapping

    NOAA visualized global vegetation over a year, and the result is beautiful:

    We've seen forestry maps before, some quite detailed, but this is the first I've seen it at this granularity over a period of time.

    Although 75% of the planet is a relatively unchanging ocean of blue, the remaining 25% of Earth's surface is a dynamic green. Data from the VIIRS sensor aboard the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite is able to detect these subtle differences in greenness. The resources on this page highlight our ever-changing planet, using highly detailed vegetation index data from the satellite, developed by scientists at NOAA. The darkest green areas are the lushest in vegetation, while the pale colors are sparse in vegetation cover either due to snow, drought, rock, or urban areas. Satellite data from April 2012 to April 2013 was used to generate these animations and images.

    The changes are especially obvious as the season moves to summer, going from snow-covered to deep green.

  • Animation shows flow of attendees during a conference

    June 18, 2013  |  Mapping

    Visitor flow

    When you go to a conference, there are typically several talks going on at the same time, and you can always tell there's a popular paper coming up when you see people leave a bunch of rooms at once and head straight into one. There's also the unfortunate case when someone speaks, and there's only a handful of people in the room, all in the back staring at their laptops. Open Data City visualized this activity during the German internet conference re: publica.

    Open Data City used MAC addresses and access point connections to keep track of where devices went. So a person might be in a room connected to the nearest access point, disconnects as he leaves, and then reconnects as he reenters another room, which provides the flow.

    It's fun to watch the conference play out even if you didn't attend. Each dot represents an attendee, and as the animation plays the dots migrate from room to room. Click and drag over the dots to select specific people. [Thanks, Michael]

  • Sniffing out Paul Revere with basic social network analysis

    June 13, 2013  |  Network Visualization

    Paul Revere Network

    It's just metadata. What can you do with that? Kieran Healy, a sociology professor at Duke University, shows what you can do, with just some basic social network analysis. Using metadata from Paul Revere's Ride on the groups that people belonged to, Healy sniffs out Paul Revere as a main target. Bonus points for writing the summary from the point of a view of an 18th century analyst.

    What a nice picture! The analytical engine has arranged everyone neatly, picking out clusters of individuals and also showing both peripheral individuals and—more intriguingly—people who seem to bridge various groups in ways that might perhaps be relevant to national security. Look at that person right in the middle there. Zoom in if you wish. He seems to bridge several groups in an unusual (though perhaps not unique) way. His name is Paul Revere.

    You can grab the R code and dataset on github, too, if you want to follow along.

  • Price of Damien Hirst spot paintings

    June 12, 2013  |  Statistical Visualization

    Damien Hirst spot paintings crop

    Damien Hirst is an artist known for a number of works, one of those being his large production of spot paintings. There are over a thousand of them painted by him and his assistants, varying in size, number of dots, density, and color. Amanda Cox of The New York Times plotted paintings sold from 1999 to present, topping out at $3.4 million. That's a whole lot of dottage.

  • Easy mapping with Map Stack

    June 11, 2013  |  Mapping

    Map Stack example

    It seems like the technical side of map-making, the part that requires code or complicated software installations, fades a little more every day. People get to focus more on actual map-making than on server setup. Map Stack by Stamen is the most recent tool to help you do this.

    We provide access to different parts of the map stack, like backgrounds, roads, labels, and satellite imagery. These can be modified using straightforward controls to change things like color, opacity, and brightness. So within a few minutes you can have a map of anywhere in the world with dark green parks and blue buildings. You can get very precise with image overlays and layer effects, using layers as cut-out masks for other layers. Or just make a regular-looking map in the colors you want.

    The idea is to make it radically simpler for people to design their own maps, without having to know any code, install any software, or even do any typing.

    It's completely web-based, and you edit your maps via a click interface. Pick what you want (or use Stamen's own stylish themes) and save an image. For the time being, the service is open only from 11am to 5pm PST, so just come back later if it happens to be closed.

    See here for a taste of what others have done so far.

  • State of the OpenStreetMap

    June 11, 2013  |  Mapping

    OpenStreetMap Data Report

    OpenStreetMap, the free wiki world map that offers up high quality geographic data, has grown a lot in the past eight years. The OpenStreetMap Data Report shows all these changes. Says the report: "The database now contains over 21 million miles of road data and 78 million buildings."
    Continue Reading

  • Rise of craft beer

    June 7, 2013  |  Mapping

    Rise of craft beer

    The Brewers Association just released data for 2012 on craft beer production and growth. The New Yorker mapped the data in a straightforward interactive.

    As of March, the United States was home to nearly two thousand four hundred craft breweries, the small producers best known for India pale ales and other decidedly non-Budweiser-esque beers. What's more, they are rapidly colonizing what one might call the craft-beer frontier: the South, the Southwest, and, really, almost any part of the country that isn't the West or the Northeast.

    Most articles and lists on craft beer tend to focus on total production and breweries, so California, a big state with a lot of people, always ends up on top. And as a Californian, I'm more than happy with my access to all the fine brews around here, but clearly, there are many more states to visit. RV trip anyone? [via @kennethfield]

  • Map: Vernacular across America

    June 6, 2013  |  Mapping

    yall

    When you talk to different people across the United States, you notice small differences in how people pronounce words and phrases. Sometimes different terms are used to describe the same thing. Bert Vaux's dialect survey tried to capture these differences, and NC State statistics graduate student Joshua Katz mapped the data.
    Continue Reading

  • Stupid calculations

    June 5, 2013  |  Visualization

    iphone skyline

    Josh Orter takes back-of-the-napkin math to the next level with Stupid Calculations, which promises to turn practical facts into utterly useless ones. Stupid calculation number one is the size of a giant iPhone screen if you combined all the iPhone screens ever sold into one.

    The eye-glazing calculations are laid out below for those who appreciate the dirty work but, skipping ahead, the Kubrick-inspired monophone would stretch 5,059 feet into the sky and have a base measuring 2,846 feet across (Central Park is 2,640 feet wide). Its surface area would take in 2.07 billion square inches. That's 14.39 million square feet or 330.54 acres. The new World Trade Center, by comparison, will have a surface area of 23 glass-clad acres, giving us enough screenage to watch Game of Thrones on all four sides of fourteen WTCs.

    See also how long it would it take to drink the water in an olympic-sized pool through a straw.

  • Map of London fire engine callouts

    June 5, 2013  |  Mapping

    Fire engine callouts

    Using data from the London Fire Brigade, James Cheshire mapped 144,000 incidents in London.

    This map shows the geography of fire engine callouts across London between January and September 2011. Each of the 144,000 or so lines represents a fire engine (pump) attending an incident (rounded to the nearest 100m) and they have been coloured according to the broad type of incident attended. These incident types have been further broken down in the bar chart on the bottom right. False alarms (in blue), for example, can be malicious (fortunately these are fairly rare), genuine or triggered by an automatic fire alarm (AFA). As the map shows, false alarms – thanks I guess to AFAs in office buildings – seem most common in central London.

    It looks a lot like a sky of fireworks in this view. I bet a map for each category might help flesh out different patterns.

  • Central limit theorem animation

    June 3, 2013  |  Statistical Visualization

    Central limit theorem animation

    The central limit theorem:

    In probability theory, the central limit theorem (CLT) states that, given certain conditions, the mean of a sufficiently large number of independent random variables, each with a well-defined mean and well-defined variance, will be approximately normally distributed.

    Victor Powell animated said random variables falling into a normal distribution (which should look familiar to those who have seen that ping pong ball exhibit in exploratoriums and science museums). Play around with the number of bins and delay time and watch it go.

  • Geography of tweets

    June 2, 2013  |  Mapping

    Geography of Twitter

    Twitter mapped all the geotagged tweets since 2009. There's billions of them, so as you might expect, roads, city centers, and pathways emerge. And it only took 20 lines of R code to make the maps.

  • Guide to Arrested Development jokes

    May 31, 2013  |  Infographics

    Guide to Arrested Develpment jokes

    In celebration of Arrested Development's return via Netflix, NPR combed through the jokes — obvious and obscure — and set them in a handy interactive guide.

    Arrested Development is back! Because we're obsessed we care about your watching enjoyment, we wrote down all the recurring gags in every episode — including the new season 4 episodes — with special attention to jokes hidden in the background (like Cloudmir vodka) or being foreshadowed (like when Buster lost his hand).

    The three categories of joke are color-coded, where each row represents a joke and a tick represents an occurrence of that joke over four seasons.

    I've only watched a handful of episodes, but I'm tempted to turn on Netflix with this guide in front of me. [Thanks, @onyxfish]

  • DDoS attack animation

    May 30, 2013  |  Visualization

    In distributed denial-of-service attack a bunch of machines make a bunch of requests to a server to make it buckle under the pressure. There was recently an attack on VideoLAN's download infrastructure. Here's what it looked like.


    Continue Reading

  • Lego venn diagram

    May 29, 2013  |  Infographics

    lego venn diagram

    Profound.

  • The Art of Data Visualization

    May 24, 2013  |  Visualization

    PBS Off Book's recent episode is on "the art of data visualization." It feels like a TED talk — kind of fluffy and warm — with several names and visualization examples that you'll recognize. No clue who the first guy is though.

  • Sensory augmentation device

    May 23, 2013  |  Data Art

    We've seen plenty of augmented reality where you put on some digitally-enabled glasses or point your camera phone on something and visuals are overlaid on reality. The augmentation is typically a layer on top.

    Eidos is a student project that tries taking this in a different direction. One piece applies an effect similar to long-exposure photography, and the other sends audio to your inner ear to focus on a subject and drown out ambient noise. See the devices in action in the video below.

    [via FastCo]

  • Meteorites seen falling since 2500BC visualized

    May 22, 2013  |  Visualization

    Bolides

    About 35,000 meteorites have been recorded since 2500 BC, and a little over 1,000 of them were seen while they fell, based on data from the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society. Carlo Zapponi, a data visualization designer, visualized the latter in Bolides.

    We saw a mapped version of this data a while back, but Bolides takes a time-based approach. A bar chart shows the number and volume of meteorites that have been seen over time, and on the initial load, you get to watch the meteorites fall, one bright orange fireball at a time.

  • A quarter century of satellite imagery

    May 21, 2013  |  Mapping

    Picture of Earth through time

    In collaboration between USGS, NASA and TIME, Google released a quarter century of satellite imagery to see how the world has changed over time.

    The images were collected as part of an ongoing joint mission between the USGS and NASA called Landsat. Their satellites have been observing earth from space since the 1970s—with all of the images sent back to Earth and archived on USGS tape drives that look something like this example (courtesy of the USGS).

    We started working with the USGS in 2009 to make this historic archive of earth imagery available online. Using Google Earth Engine technology, we sifted through 2,068,467 images—a total of 909 terabytes of data—to find the highest-quality pixels (e.g., those without clouds), for every year since 1984 and for every spot on Earth. We then compiled these into enormous planetary images, 1.78 terapixels each, one for each year.

    Be sure to check out the Timelapse feature on Time.

  • Coaches are highest paid public employees

    May 17, 2013  |  Mapping

    Coaches map

    Deadspin made a straightforward map that shows the highest paid public employee in each state.

    Based on data drawn from media reports and state salary databases, the ranks of the highest-paid active public employees include 27 football coaches, 13 basketball coaches, one hockey coach, and 10 dorks who aren't even in charge of a team.

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