• Challenge: Advertised vs. actual waistline

    September 30, 2010  |  Contests, Statistical Visualization

    waistline measurement chart for men

    Ever notice how pants seem to fit differently from store-to-store even though they're labeled as the same size? Why does the 36-inch at Old Navy feel kind of loose but the same size at The Gap feels like you had too many fries at lunch? Here's your answer from the Esquire Style blog. The actual size (from this über-scientific study, I am sure) tends to be bigger than the size as advertised. A 36-inch waistline actually means 41 inches in Old Navy units.
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  • Exploratory tool for school admissions

    September 29, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    Admitulator

    With thousands of applications, it can be tough deciding who to admit in to your program. The aptly named Admitulator, by Golan Levin, helps faculty sort things out:

    Admitulator 2.0 (2010). A custom tool for quantitatively evaluating university applicants according to a diverse array of weighted metrics. The pie chart is the core interface for sorting and evaluating applicants; it allows faculty with different admissions priorities to explore and negotiate different balances between applicant features (such as e.g. portfolio scores, standardized test scores, grade point averages, etcetera). Built in Processing for the CMU School of Art.

    Next stop: Match.com.

    [Admitulator via @golan]

  • Music listening preferences by gender

    September 28, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    Listening habits by age and gender

    Last.fm intern Joachim Van Herwegen has a quick look at listening habits by age and gender:

    The sizes of the artists' names indicate how popular they are, while their position shows the gender mix and average age of their listeners. Based on the positions of the larger names, it’s already obvious which age category is most common amongst Last.fm users.

    With age on the horizontal and gender breakdown on the vertical, artists on the bottom left are those popular among young girls. Top right are artists popular among older men. Red Hot Chili Peppers and Radiohead appear to hit the universal sweet spot.

    I wonder how the graphs would vary across services. For example, I've been using Rdio for the past month, and nerd hipster music seems to be the hot theme around those parts. Hit up YouTube though, and everything is Bieberriffic. [Last.fm via Waxy]

  • Expense visualizer

    September 23, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    Canada expense visualizer

    In an effort to make Canadian government expense data more accessible, FFunction designed the Expense Visualizer. A slider on top lets you filter by time, and small graphs show spending by different departments. Rearrange panels as you wish, and select among several scaling options as absolute values or relative. Bookmark your custom views or send them to others.

    It took two years to make, but I'm pretty sure most of that time was waiting for all the groups to publish their data since the implementation itself is fairly straightforward.

    A vertical axis probably would've been useful to see the values more easily. Or even better, a display of values as you rollover the graphs (like this).

    [Thanks, Sébastien]

  • Faith and poverty in the world

    September 8, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    World of Faith by Charles M Blow

    Using data from a recent Gallup report showing a correlation between wealth and faith, Charles M. Blow reports in graphic form. Each sphere, sized by population, represents a country. Spheres are colored by dominant religion in that country.
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  • Countries of the world ranked by stuff

    August 25, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    Countries ranked by health and education

    What country has the best education? Health? Quality of life? Thomas Klepl and Adam Clarkson of Newsweek take a look at important metrics for the world's best countries. It's basically a parallel coordinates plot turned on its side. Each represents a metric, and each circle in a row is a country.

    Select a country from the list on the left or by directly interacting with the plot. If a country is top in all categories, like Finland, then all of the scores are going to be on the right. Burkina Faso, on the other hand, is all the way to the left. Of course, this is only the "top" 100 countries.

    You can also filter by geographic regions, income, and population groups.

    While I'm not totally sure about the ranking system and methodology, it's an interesting look.

    [Thanks, Adam]

  • Stacked area shows the Web is dead?

    August 17, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    Web is dead infographic - revised

    Wired has declared that the Web is dead in their September cover story, and they lead off with this stacked area chart showing the decline of browser-based consumption. Each layer represents a way to consume media via the Internet. Instead of the browser, the majority of US traffic, as estimated by Cisco, has shifted towards peer-to-peer, video, and tiny apps over browsers. Data accuracy questions aside, let's not forget though that the number of total users is still growing, and that smaller portion using the Web is still billions of people.

    My main concern is that the graphic only goes up to 2005. That's ages ago by Internet time. What do the numbers look like now?

    [via TechCrunch]

    Update: Graphic now has correct timespan labels. So now it's back to the debate of relative vs absolute values. [thx, Joanna]

    Update again: What if the article had been about the growth in the number of ways we can interact with online media? Would we see this distribution differently?

  • Alex Rodriguez joins the 600 club

    August 9, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    Alex Rodriguez home run chart

    Alex Rodriguez became only the seventh player in MLB history to hit 600 home runs, at a younger age than any of the previous six by far. Amanda Cox and Kevin Quealy of The New York Times visualize home run counts for Rodriguez and other big hitters. It's similar to the graphic NYT designed when Barry Bonds passed Hank Aaron back in 2007, except with this new one, you can sort the home run lines by season or by age.
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  • $8.7b Iraq development funds unaccounted for

    August 8, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    Iraq funds unaccounted for pie chart

    A simple question from GOOD magazine: where did the money to rebuild Iraq go? In 2003, the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) was established for the benefit of the country's people. The Department of Defense (DoD) managed that money. According to a report [pdf] from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction:

    Weaknesses in DoD’s financial and management controls left it unable to properly account for $8.7 billion of the $9.1 billion in DFI funds it received for reconstruction activities in Iraq. This situation occurred because most DoD organizations receiving DFI funds did not establish the required Department of the Treasury accounts and no DoD organization was designated as the executive agent for managing the use of DFI funds. The breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss.

    That's 96% of 9.1 billion dollars that we apparently have no clue about how it was spent. What?

    [Thanks, Elise]

  • The Reach of Firefox data poster

    Exploring the Reach of Firefox

    Once every blue moon I like to freelance as a short break from school work, and a few months back I got an email from…
  • Redesign of the Federal IT Dashboard

    August 2, 2010  |  Design, Statistical Visualization

    About a year after the launch of the Federal IT Dashboard, business intelligence consultancy Juice Analytics focuses on five areas — message, flow, charts, context, and design fundamentals — where the dashboard could use some improvement.

    The first tip on message:

    The information designer is responsible for presenting the data in a way that the message is delivered in a clear and understandable way. If the data is left to speak for itself, users can be left confused or frustrated. And in all likelihood they won't to [sp] see the full value of the data. That's particularly tough for this Federal IT Dashboard where a huge amount of effort has been put into gathering consistent data across agencies.

    Totally agree with this, but to avoid confusion, let's clarify. You should always let the data speak for itself. It's just that what the data says often seems like a foreign language to non-professionals. It's up to you, the information designer, to translate. The better you can translate, the better the information designer you are.

    See the rest of the redesign on Juice Analytics (who is hiring, by the way).

  • Exploration of our aging world

    July 26, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    Our aging world interactive visualization

    From Ben Fry's newly established Fathom Information Design, is a visualization for GE on our aging world:

    According to the United Nations, the elderly population of the world is growing at its fastest rate ever. By 2050, there will be more than 2 billion people aged 60 or over. The age of a country's population can reveal insights about that country's history, and can provide a glimpse towards the economic and healthcare trends that will challenge their societies in the future.

    The piece is a simple but elegant interactive that lets you compare age distributions between countries, over time. Select one country on the top, and select another on the bottom. For each country, you get a pair of stacked bars (for men and women). Age moves left to right, so the left-most bars represent the youngest, and the right most represent the oldest.

    Use the slider on the bottom to navigate through time, and the distributions shift further right (i.e. people live longer) in a wave-like motion, as the population of each respective country increases.

    Finally, watch a composite of all eight selected countries in the bottom right.

    The one thing missing for me is the percentages for each age/gender group as you roll over each bar. But I'm just being picky. Really good stuff. The interactive leaves it up to you to see what's going on in the data.

    How does your country compare to others?

  • Gapminder makes its way to the desktop

    July 13, 2010  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    Gapminder Desktop

    You've seen the presentation. You've seen the motion graph tool. But up until now, the data exploration tool, Trendalyzer, has always been in the browser. Now you can download the desktop version, and keep everything on your own computer with Gapminder Desktop:

    Gapminder Desktop is particularly useful for presentations as it allows you to prepare your graphs in advance and you won’t need an Internet connection at your lecture or presentation.

    In the "list of graphs" you will get at preset list of graphs on the left side, but you can also very easily create your own favorite examples. Simply arrange the graph the way you want it and click “bookmark this graph”. Your example will the appear in your own list of favorite graphs. Perfect when you want to prepare a lecture or presentation.

    Basically, it's the exact same thing as the online version as an Adobe Air application, which is handy for all you motion graph fans out there.
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  • How Britain has changed since 1997

    July 7, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    How Britain has changed in the past decade

    Prospect Magazine takes a look at how Britain has changed by the numbers from 1997 to present:

    Richer, fatter, living longer, more indebted, drunker, better connected, politically disillusioned: there’s no metric that can describe whether we are happier or living better lives after 13 years of Labour. But there are plenty to show how we have changed during a period of fulsome spending, borrowing and technological transformation.

    The four pages of graphics are well-organized with just the right balance of color and iconography, to keep the reader engaged without going oatmeal on the numbers.

  • JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit 2.0 released

    July 6, 2010  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    the Jit treemap example

    Visualization in JavaScript is all the rage these days. Just a couple of years ago, this would've seemed ridiculous because the engines were too slow, but no more of that. To that end, Nicolas Garcia Belmonte just released his JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit 2.0. It's got your treemaps, stacked area charts, pie charts, weighted graph, so on and so forth. You can see all the demos, plus code examples to get the full picture.

    This is not dissimilar to Protovis from the Stanford visualization group. Although, I'm told the JIT is fully functioning in Internet Explorer. Protovis only partly works in IE right now.

  • Strata of common and not so common colors

    June 9, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    The Color Strata from Weathersealed

    In another look at the data from xkcd's color experiment, Stephen Von Worley looks at the common and not so common colors of the rainbow:

    The Color Strata includes the 200 most common color names (excluding black-white-grayish tones), organized by hue horizontally and relative usage vertically, stacked by overall popularity, shaded representatively, and labeled where possible. Besides filtering spam, ignoring cruft, normalizing grey to gray, and correcting the most egregious misspellings (here’s looking at you, fuchsia), the results are otherwise unadulterated.

    The results correspond nicely with Martin and Dolores Labs' color wheels from a couple of years ago.

    [Thanks, Stephen]

  • Protovis 3.2 released – more examples and layouts

    June 7, 2010  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    parralel coordinates

    The most recent version of Protovis, the open-source visualization library that uses JavaScript and SVG, was just released not too long ago - this time with more layout and examples. This is especially helpful since Protovis was "designed to be learned by example." Among the new stuff is the ever popular streamgraphs, along with the force-directed layout. With only 10 to 20 lines of code, you'll have your viz, so lots of bang for the buck.

    There are, however, still some limitations with dreaded Internet Explorer (mainly with interaction), but they're getting there, I think.

    Find plenty of other examples on the Protovis site. Robert Kosara has also started a series of Protovis tutorials on how to use the library if you want some guidance on where to start.

  • Current tracks and visualizes memes

    May 27, 2010  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    It's not easy keeping up with what's going on around the Web. Trending topic here. Another topic there. Zoe Fraade-Blanar, a graduate student at NYU ITP, hopes to lessen the pain with Current: A News Project.

    Through a combination of data from Google Hot Trends and cross-references via Google News, the last 24 hours of memes are charted over time. The focus is on providing a tool that allows journalists to report news that matters, without sacrificing the reader traffic that comes in for videos of cute puppy dogs.

    News relies on soft stories like horoscopes, celebrity gossip and restaurant reviews to subsidize the important but less sensational stories that keep democracy running. At base, any solution to News’ present problems must address the balance between the hard news we need and the soft news that drives advertising dollars. By visually anthropomorphizing the capricious nature of public attention Current can spotlight these missed opportunities in news coverage.

    It's still rough around the edges, and I'm not really digging the whole amoeba aesthetic, but I could see how this might be useful. Next steps: provide a way to focus on specific topics, incorporate Twitter trends, and smooth out the interaction.

    Try it out for yourself (available for Mac and PC), and toss your thoughts in the comments below.

    [via ReadWriteWeb]

  • What America spends on food and drink

    May 13, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    What America spends on food and drink

    How much more (or less) money do you spend on groceries than you do on dining out? How does it compare to how others spend? Bundle, a new online destination that aims to describe how we spend money, takes a look at the grocery-dining out breakdown in major cities. The average household in Austin spends the most money on food per year, period. Atlanta has the highest skew towards spending on dining out at 57%. The US average is 37%.
    Continue Reading

  • Driving habits and gas prices shift into reverse

    May 11, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    driving

    Hannah Fairfield of the New York Times looks at driving habits and gas prices over the past six decades. Miles driven per capita is on the horizontal, and the adjusted price of gasoline is on the vertical. The drawn path indicates order in time.

    Americans have driven more miles every year than the year before, almost every year, but there's been a swing as of late. High unemployment has meant less people driving to work, and less consumer spending means less freight moving across the country. As a result, the path appears to swing in the opposite direction.

    [Thanks, Craig]

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