• HTML5 visualization readiness

    Everyone's been bashing Flash lately and holding HTML5 up on a pedestal. This circular graph thing, for example, shows what a combination of HTML5 and CSS3 can do and what features are available in major browsers. That's great and all, but as you can see there are still a lot of holes.

    The most glaringly obvious hole is Internet Explorer - which supports practically nothing. This is nothing new. Anyone who's designed a site to work in all browsers knows this. But as much as you hate Internet Explorer, you're not going to block content for some 80 percent of visitors, right?

    On top of that, Flash provides richer interaction than HTML5 right now, and it's going to be like that for a while. A lot of the work from the New York Times is in Flash. Stamen Design uses Flash. A lot of great work has come out of Flash - not just cruddy MySpace pages.

    Now I'm not saying HTML5 isn't going to be useful. It will be and is in some areas. But in terms of visualization, Flash is still better.

  • Design of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Masterpiece

    In 1934, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed Fallingwater, a house built partly over a waterfall. A couple of years ago, Smithsonian Magazine listed Fallingwater as one of the 28 places to visit before you die. Cristobal Vila, who himself has a knack for pretty things, animates the imaginary design and construction of Wright's famous building.

    Watch it unfold in the animated video below. Warning: after watching, you will have a very strong urge to visit.
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  • Facebook users who don’t know they are sharing

    I'm pretty sure all this Facebook stuff will blow over soon enough. Most people have changed their privacy settings by now. The rest don't really care. Some people though simply have no clue that what they're sharing with their inner circle is out on display for anyone to see. Openbook uses the Facebook search API to show these users. Search for a term or phrase and see the status updates of public profiles.
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  • Facebook privacy options untangled

    People are up in arms about Facebook's new privacy policies, partly because some information was forced into public view and partly because there are so many settings that figuring out what's public and what's private is confusing. Guilbert Gates of the New York Times clears things up with the above graphic. To put it simply: there's a lot of stuff.
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  • Wait. Something isn’t right here…

    No clue where this is from, but something seems sort of off, no? I guess we should take the title literally. By the numbers... only.

    I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt though, and assume this was just an honest mistake. Here's my guess about what happened. A deadline was coming up quick, and a graphics editor put this together to get a feel for what the final design would look like. He then saved it as a different file, and then went to work. Except when it came time to send the file to the printers, the editor sent the wrong file. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often.

    [via @EagerEyes]

  • Marge Simpson is Europe in disguise

    I bet you didn't know this. Marge Simpson was actually modeled after the coastlines of Europe. True story. [via Strange Maps]

  • 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%.
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  • Interview: Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg

    Andrew interviews Fernanda and Martin about their new venture Flowing Media, visualization, and their amazing taste in adjectives. On the divide between art and science as it pertains to visualization:

    The only divide that matters is between good work and bad. Contextualized questions like, "Does technique X help biologists investigate gene regulation?" or "Would installation Y be an inspirational addition to our museum exhibit on generative art?" are necessary and useful. More general debates about the role of art versus science are fun, but can also be distracting and block the flow of ideas.

    In any case, arguing about labels isn't effective because language has a life of its own. For instance, "social network" once meant a specific sociological model, but for most people today it means Facebook or MySpace. It may annoy sociologists, but that's just how the language evolved. Now the word "visualization" is starting to become part of the popular lexicon. Who can say what it will mean in ten years?

    That sounds about right. Read the full interview on infosthetics.

  • Field guide to fanboys

    PCWorld provides a handy field guide to help you spot fanboys in the wild. Come in contact with someone who is strangely turned on by brushed metal, goes rampant on the mention of AT&T, calls everything magical, fears beach volleyballs, and has Coldplay on constant repeat? You've got an Apple fanboy on your hands. You've been warned.

    [via Cool Infographics]

  • Write your own TED talk with lies, damned lies and statistics

    Sebastian Wernicke, an engagement manager at Oliver Wyman and former bioinformatics researcher, explains the results from his pseudo-analysis of TED talks. The result: a guide on how to give the ultimate TED talk. Go as long as you can, grow your hair out and wear glasses, and cover happy ideas that are easy to relate to. Or better yet, use Wernicke's tedPAD to formulaically write your own talk to drive the audience wild - or boo at you emphatically.
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  • How open data saved $3.2 billion

    This is a story of fake charities and tax shelters. In an analysis of data from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), it was found that billions of dollars in donations were collected by fraudulent organizations, with only a tiny portion going to the actual causes. In one case, only $1 out of every $100 went to helping the homeless. The rest of the money went to a tax shelter. Shameful.

    All told, my colleague estimated that these illegally operating charities alone sheltered roughly half a billion dollars in 2005. Indeed, newspapers later confirmed that in 2007, fraudulent donations were closer to a billion dollars a year, with some 3.2 billion dollars illegally sheltered, a sum that accounts for 12% of all charitable giving in Canada.

    Not only did this lead to the exposure of fraud, but also negligence on the part of the CRA charity division (now under new leadership). How did this go on for so long? A simple sort on the data would have raised questions immediately. Instead, it took a freelance consultant, poking around out of curiosity, and journalists, who were aware of fishy behavior, to move things along.

    [via @datamarket]

  • Driving habits and gas prices shift into reverse

    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]

  • The path to successful infographics

    Most people don't know what actually goes into a good infographic. There's a lot more to it than just the design. There's research, analysis, and fact-checking that you have to do long before you open Illustrator. Sarah Slobin, from the Wall Street Journal, explains how to create successful infographics. Have an idea, get the data, choose your tools, edit wisely, and above all else, pay close attention to detail.

  • Dreaming in numbers

    I don't dream in numbers, but if I did, I'm pretty sure it'd look a lot like this. In Nature by Numbers, a short movie by Cristobal Vila, inspired by, well, numbers and nature, Vila animates the natural existence of Fibonacci sequences, the golden ratio, and Delaunay triangulation. Watch it. Even if you don't know what those three things are, the video will rock your socks off.
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  • Nutritional facts redesigned

    Nutrition facts labels are uniform across products, but let's imagine for a second that you could do whatever you want, just as long they showed certain bits of information. FFunction takes a stab at redesigning the standard milk carton under this premise. No cows, no fields of green, and no dairies. Just nutritional facts and full transparency on what's going into your body.

    This wouldn't work with a mass market, but hey, they've got my purchase. After all, data does a body good.

    [Thanks, Audree]

  • Evolution of Facebook privacy policies

    There's been a lot of hullabaloo about Facebook's newly installed privacy policies. It started out very closed, to just university students, and has expanded its reach, especially over the past year, to the more public Web. Matt McKeon, of the Visual Communication Lab, explores Facebook's privacy policies, from 2005 to present.

    Rings represent the audience, starting with you in the middle all the way out to the entire Internet. Slices represent bits and interactions you have on Facebook. Click on the image to see how the policies changed over the years for each bit.

    Finally, you can also download the code (in the implementation section), which was written in Processing.js. I think I'm noticing a trend. Check it out here.

    [via Ben Fry]

  • Streamgraph code ported to JavaScript

    Lee Byron open-sourced his streamgraph code in Processing about a month ago. Jason Sundram has taken that and ported it to JavaScript, using Processing.js.

    The algorithms are the same as that in the original, but of course the natural benefit is that people don't need Java to run it their browsers. Jason has also added a few features including dynamic sizing, more straightforward settings, and some interaction with zoom and hover control. Really nice work.

    Grab the code, plus examples on GitHub.

    [Thanks, Jason]

  • Graph labels are for chumps

    Yeah, it's Friday. [Married to the Sea | via @levib]

  • Tracking the oil spill

    For those following the status of the oil spill, the New York Times provides a map tracking the spread. Press play to get the day-by-day. The oil is currently spreading to the west of the Mississippi delta, getting dangerously close to the oyster beds (in red).
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  • The Boom of Big Infographics

    May 6 2010  |  Infographics  |  Tags:

    Big information graphics have been around for a long time. They've come in the form of maps, visualization, art, signs, etc. That was all on paper though. In the past couple of years, humongous, gigantic, and often really long infographics have found their way onto the computer screen, through blogs and news sites. Some are great. Some really suck. The volume is booming for both.

    Let's take a look at when this all got started, where the trend is headed, and how much we should really read into these things.
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