• Fake filming locations of Paramount Studios

    This might shock you, but many movies are not filmed on location. Yeah. Sometimes they're filmed in completely different countries. Sorry, but it's time you knew. This map from Paramount Studios, produced in 1927, showed investors where movies could shoot, instead of going to the actual places. Does your movie take place in Venice, Italy? No problem, head down to southern California. How about the Mississippi River? Check out the Sacramento River.

    [via A Whole Lotta Nothing]

  • Tour of advanced visualization techniques

    Jeffrey Heer, Michael Bostock, and Vadim Ogievetsky provide a good overview of some of the more advanced data visualization techniques in ACM Queue:

    This article provides a brief tour through the "visualization zoo," showcasing techniques for visualizing and interacting with diverse data sets. In many situations, simple data graphics will not only suffice, they may also be preferable. Here we focus on a few of the more sophisticated and unusual techniques that deal with complex data sets. After all, you don't go to the zoo to see Chihuahuas and raccoons; you go to admire the majestic polar bear, the graceful zebra, and the terrifying Sumatran tiger.

    You've probably seen many of the techniques they present, such as stacked graphs, small multiples, and arc diagrams, but at the very least you'll get the names and some brief descriptions of what you're looking at, so you don't have to call it the circly-thing-with-curvy-lines graph again.

    Plus most of the examples were made with Protovis, an open-source toolkit for visualization, and you can grab the code to help you with your own visualization project.

    [Thanks, @a_lo]

  • Twitwee the Twitter cuckoo clock

    I love it when data, or in this case, tweets, finds itself in physical objects. There's no reason data needs to stay plastered on our computer screens. Embed in the physical world as much as possible, I say. Haroon Baig, a communication designer in Germany, uses a clock that he calls Twitwee to cuckoo every time a tweet comes in matching a given query.

    This would get annoying really fast as it is now, but with a more refined filter or event recognition, this could actually be pretty useful.

    See Twitwee in action below.
    Continue Reading

  • FlowingData is brought to you by…

    My many thanks to the FlowingData sponsors who help keep the gears turning and let me do what I do. Check 'em out. They do data right.

    Tableau Software - Combines data exploration and visual analytics in an easy-to-use data analysis tool you can quickly master. It makes data analysis easy and fun. Customers are working 5 to 20 times faster using Tableau.

    InstantAtlas - Enables information analysts and researchers to create highly-interactive online reporting solutions that combine statistics and map data to improve data visualization, enhance communication, and engage people in more informed decision making.

    Want to sponsor FlowingData? Email me for details.

  • Senate and House races are on

    I'm not proud of this, but I know very little about what's going on with these 2010 midterm elections. The New York Times just put up their election maps on the race though — for governor, House and Senate seats — so at least you have a way to get informed in a hurry.
    Continue Reading

  • 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.
    Continue Reading

  • 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.
    Continue Reading

  • 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.
    Continue Reading

  • 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%.
    Continue Reading

  • 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.
    Continue Reading

  • 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.
    Continue Reading

  • 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]