The end of 2009 is looming, and it's about time to make this year's picks for best visualizations. I was sifting through the archives the other day. The selection is going to be tough. I need your help.
What was the best visualization of 2009?
It can be something I've posted or not; it can be serious or humorous; interactive or for print; art or analytical; map or chart. To jog your memory, here is some of the visualization stuff we've seen this year, and here are my picks for last year for reference.
What if you could see all the individual bits of information scattered across the Web in one view and then interact with it in a meaningful way? This is what Microsoft Live Labs' new Pivot experiment tries to do.
Pivot makes it easier to interact with massive amounts of data in ways that are powerful, informative, and fun. We tried to step back and design an interaction model that accommodates the complexity and scale of information rather than the traditional structure of the Web.
The goal is to let users make connections between pages, data points, photos, etc that go beyond links, with what the developers call collections. The below video is a demonstration and explanation:
Pivot's ability to display lots of thumbnails and then reorganize and zoom in on them is the tool's foundation. The transition between each view involves a flutter of thumbnails, which sort of provides a link between data arrangements. The browsing behavior looks a lot like that of Photosynth, a Live Labs project that lets you browse giant bundles of photos.
Jeffrey Heer et. al. wrote a paper on these transitions a while back. I can't really say whether it works or not. I suspect it's more about a fun factor once you get into higher volumes of data than it is about making connections. That's not to say it's not important, of course. After all, most of the Web is about entertainment in some form or another.
All in all, it's an interesting concept, and it will be fun to see where the Live Labs team takes the project.
Pivot is currently by invitation only, but I have a handful of invites (10 to be exact) for you guys. Download Pivot from here, and then use this activation code: 3C5D 19BD B7DA 3186. Come back here and let us know what you think in the comments.
You've seen the NameExplorer from the Baby Name Wizard by Martin Wattenberg. It's an interactive area chart that lets you explore the popularity of names over time. Search by clicking on names or typing in a name in the prompt. It's simple. It's sexy. Everybody loves it.
This is a step-by-step guide on how to make a similar visualization in Actionscript/Flash with your own data and how to customize the design for whatever you need. We're after last week's graphic on consumer spending (above). Continue Reading
Nebul.us is an online application, currently in private beta, that aggregates and visualizes your online activity. Enter your information for Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc and install a plugin in Firefox to record your browsing behavior. Get something that looks like the above, sort of a donut-polar area chart hybrid. Nebul.us calls it a cloud. Continue Reading
The gift-giving season is here, and you're probably wondering what to get everybody. You can only give so many neck ties, and you gave gift cards to Best Buy last year. So here's some help. Here are some gifts that will rock the socks off any data geek.
FlowingPrints - Obviously an excellent choice. I'm a little biased, yes, but still great :). Use the code gimme50off to get 50% when you buy two prints or more. Deal ends this Friday.
It was World AIDS Day last week and UNAIDS published the latest estimates on the number of people around the world who are living with HIV. Xaquin G.V. provides four cartograms (i.e. value-aread maps) to show the numbers. In the final result (above) each square represents 10,000 people with HIV, and regions are color-coded by percentage of people with the virus. Continue Reading
David was kind enough to provide a handful of copies to all of you. How to enter? Just leave a comment at the bottom of this post, and then come back on Monday to see if you're a winner. If leaving a comment isn't your thing, because it's just too crazy hard, you can buy it here. It's well worth it, and would also make an excellent gift.
Statistical graphics are often... kind of bland. But that's fine, because they're usually for analysis, and the wireframe does just fine. The time eventually comes though when you need to present your analytical visualization in a paper or some slides, and you're no longer the primary reader.
There's this branch in computer science and statistics for vision research. Normally, if you ever hear about it in the news it's in the context of spotting terrorists in security tapes or facial recognition checkpoints (you know, like what they have in movies in front of giant steel doors). That is of course not the only application.
Google (and many others) has been playing around with this stuff for a while. Most recently, they released Google Image Swirl in their labs section, which utilizes computer vision to find similar images.
Above is my search for happy cat. The initial search result is what you're used to. It's a matrix of thumbnails. Click on one of them, and you'll get similar images clustered as a network graph.
Google Image Swirl: the new way to find if someone is plagiarizing your work.
I'm no doubt still under massive food coma at this time, but in case you've regained consciousness or don't live in the US, check out this collection of maps from The Morning News. Can you guess what each is supposed to show? If you can guess even one of them correctly, I'll be impressed.
Straight to the point. It's Black Friday. Here's the deal. Get 1 print for the price of 3. No wait, switch that. Get 3 prints for the price of 1 when you buy the series.
Use this code to take advantage: bfridayfps20
This deal ends on Sunday. Get some prints for yourself or as a gift to your data geek friend or dog today.
Remember: your order will help more prints go to local education.
What is FlowingPrints?
For those new to FlowingData, FlowingPrints is a pet project of mine to put data, well, in print. For this first series, I collaborated with two designers to create three original views of education in America - through data. Check 'em out now. They'll make your walls ridiculously smart.
Food-wise, Thanksgiving is different across the country. In some places you're going to get a lot of chitterlings and collard greens, while in others, turkey and mashed potatoes. Personally, I'm a big fan of the 10-course Chinese feast, but to each his own.
With all the visualization options out there, it can be hard to figure out what graph or chart suits your data best. This is a guide to make your decision easier for one particular type of data: proportions.
Maybe you want to show poll results or the types of crime over time, or maybe you're interested in a single percentage. Here's how you can show it. Continue Reading
Verizon has been running these ads lately that compare their 3G coverage to that of AT&T's. In the ads a Verizon customer walks along on a speedy phone, and a US map pops up that's covered in red. Later, an AT&T customer looks frustrated with a sparsely-covered AT&T coverage map. You've probably seen them by now, but if not, here are the Verizon ones. Continue Reading
Can you experience data? Sometimes visualization gets you part of the way there, putting data into context, serving as a trigger for your memory, and all that. But only so much can happen through the computer screen.