• Visual Representation of Tabular Information – How to Fix the Uncommunicative Table

    April 21, 2009  |  Network Visualization

    This is a guest post by Martin Krzywinski who develops Circos, a GPL-licensed (free) visualization tool that can help you show relationships in data. This article is based on a longer writeup which you can find here.

    Suppose that you are reading an article and the text refers you to a table on the next page. Before you turn the page, what are your expectations of the table? Chances are, you would like it to communicate trends and patterns. Chances are, too, that it will fail and simply deliver numerical minutiae. You are left hunting around the numbers for a while, only to return to the text in hopes that the table's data trends will be communicated elsewhere.
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  • Jobs Vanish Across Our Country

    April 20, 2009  |  Mapping

    As a nation, we gained jobs every month during 2007 compared to the same month one year before. However, since July of 2008, we've seen a loss in jobs nationwide, and up until Februrary of this year, it's gotten worse every month. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the recession has claimed more than 5 million jobs. This interactive map from Slate Magazine says it all.

    [Thanks, @jaybol and @barr]

  • ‘I Love Charts’ from Sid the Science Kid

    April 17, 2009  |  Miscellaneous

    It's good to see PBS is teaching strong values to grow up with with Sid the Science Kid and this lovely chart song (below). A chart is a handy dandy scientific tool...it gives you information that you can see with your eyes...a chart that you visualize...you get the picture... so do I... Best kid song ever.

    Have a nice weekend all.

    [via infosthetics | Thanks, Nick]

  • Thank You, FlowingData Sponsors

    April 17, 2009  |  Sponsors

    FlowingData continues to grow at a faster and faster rate each month, and I have you, FD reader, to thank. Thank you for emailing your friends, tweeting and retweeting posts, sharing via Digg, del.icio.us, Facebook, etc, and sending in post suggestions. FlowingData would not be the same without you and not nearly as interesting.

    I'd also like to thank FlowingData sponsors who help me keep this little ol' blog of mine running smoothly. Contrary to popular belief, FlowingData isn't a big design firm or even a group of people. I'm just one graduate student trying to finish a dissertation, and FlowingData would not be possible without the sponsors. I hope you will help me thank them by checking out the visualization tools they have to offer.

    IDV Solutions — Create interactive, map-based, enterprise mashups in SharePoint.

    NetCharts — Build business dashboards that turn data into actionable information with dynamic charts and graphs.

    Tableau Software — Data exploration and visual analytics for understanding databases and spreadsheets that makes data analysis easy and fun.

    InstantAtlas — Enables information analysts to create interactive maps to improve data visualization and enhance communication.

    Eye-Sys — Comprehensive real-time 3D visualization. Their gallery section in particular is quite impressive.

    SiSense — Easy-to-use reporting and analysis. No code required and directly connects to Excel, CSV files, SQL, MySQL, Oracle and SQL Analysis Services

    If you'd like to sponsor FlowingData, please feel free to email me, and I'll get back to you with the details.

  • Visualize This: Days Spent Working to Pay Taxes

    April 16, 2009  |  Visualize This

    It's time for another segment of Visualize This. For new readers, this is something I've been running every now and then where I post a dataset and we all put up our own visualizations. It runs for a couple of weeks and we end up with many different views of the data, some inspiration, and we learn something in the process.

    The Data

    About 28.2% of the average American's income goes towards taxes, which means the first 103 days of the year is to pay for government. At the end of these 103 days - April 13 - is Tax Freedom Day. However, because of varying state-by-state tax burdens and average incomes, Tax Freedom Day varies by state. Alaska, for example, has the earliest Tax Freedom Day (March 23) because it has low state and local taxes while Connecticut is last on April 30, because of "extraordinarily high federal income taxes." For this Visualize This we're looking at the number of days each state spends paying taxes this year (2009).

    Your Mission

    As with previous Visualize This segments, show us your best shot at visualizing the Tax Freedom Day data in this forum thread. I've put the data in an Excel spreadsheet that you can find at the bottom of the forum post. You are welcome to incorporate any other data too if you feel that it adds to the story.

    Map? Graphs? Both? Let's see what you've got. Oh, and most importantly, have fun. If you haven't registered a (free) forum account, you'll want to do that first.

    DEADLINE: April 30, 2009

    [Thanks, Alex]

  • Creating a World in Holograms

    April 15, 2009  |  Data Art

    This holographic video by Bruce Branit is completely fictional but oh so sexy. Can you imagine a digital world at that level of interaction - where just about anything and everything is at your finger tips? It's good to dream.

    [via infosthetics]

  • Millions of Money-in-Politics Data Records Now Available

    April 15, 2009  |  Data Sources

    The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), a research group well-known for its tracking of monetary influence on United States politics, announced some great news. Their expansive dataset is now available to the public via OpenSecrets.

    Politicians, prepare yourselves. Lobbyists, look out. Today the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics is putting 200 million data records from the watchdog group's archive directly into the hands of citizens, activists, journalists and anyone else interested in following the money in U.S. politics.

    Yeah, 200 million data records. Correction. 200 million cleaned, formatted, and documented data records. Awesome. They've got data on campaign finances, lobbying, personal finances, and 527 organizations, which can be downloaded as CSV files or via the RESTful API. Let the mashups begin.

    [via Ben Fry | Thanks, Gegtik]

  • Demographics in World of 100

    April 14, 2009  |  Infographics

    Designers seem to have taken a liking to the idea of showing world statistics as a village of 100. For example, if the world were a village of 100 people, 48 of them would be men. While we're essentially just looking at percentages, the village metaphor seems to do a better job at humanizing the numbers. Along the same lines, this poster series from Tony Ng, World of 100, uses simple graphics to relate to demographics like money, food, and computers:

    This is a self-initiated project based on the scenario – If the world were a village of 100 people. There are a few different versions of this text in circulation about the world’s statistics. I found the data very striking and neatly summarises the world that we live in. So I used information graphics to re-tell the story in another creative way.

    A few of the graphics seem kind of random, but hey, it's amusing.

    [via The Daily Dish]

  • Geography of Buzz In Los Angeles and New York

    April 13, 2009  |  Mapping

    Elizabeth Currid (USC) and Sarah Williams (Columbia University), collaborate to map the geography of buzz in Los Angeles (above) and New York (below). The two researchers mined thousands of photos from Getty Images which provided a dataset of parties in art, music, fashion, movies, film, etc and created density maps which in turn show the hip places to be.
    Continue Reading

  • Campaign Contributions to the 110th Congress

    April 10, 2009  |  Network Visualization

    This network graph shows common contributions between representatives in Congress:

    A relationship exists between two elements in the visual if they share a relationship with at least one member of the other group. For instance, both Bernie Sanders and Sam Brownback received campaign contributions from the the National Association of Realtors.

    Line thickness represents number of shared relationships; and color represents Democrat to Democrat, Republican to Republican, and cross-party connections. There's a zoomable version, but like a lot of network stuff it still feels cluttered. I'm sure some node interaction goodness would do this some good.

    [Thanks, @mrflip]

  • Zappos Maps Sales in Real-time

    April 9, 2009  |  Mapping

    Zappos, the online shoe retailer, maps sales across the United States in real-time. We've seen this before in Twittervision and other Google Maps mashups, but the difference here is that every shoe that pops on the map is cash in the bank. Keep that in mind, and this mashup takes on whole new meaning. Disregard the bug that doesn't reposition markers on zoom.

    [Thanks, @noahharlan]

  • Web Trends Map from Information Architects, 4th edition

    April 7, 2009  |  Data Art

    Information Architects, a design firm with offices in Japan and Zurich, release their annual web trends map. This is the fourth one in the series. Popular domains on the Web are mapped to the Tokyo Metro and organized by how they are most related to the cities. Heights represent success in traffic and branding. Subway lines are colored by area of interest. For example, take the orange line to find the creatives. Notice that there are several colors passing through Apple.

    Here's the high-res zoomable version. Go full-screen for the full effect.

    While the map would mean a lot more to me if I lived in Tokyo, the designers obviously have taken great care to cover the details, and that's something I can appreciate.

    [via TechCrunch | Thanks, Pavan and Max]

  • Sprint Commercial Tells Us What’s Happening Right Now

    April 7, 2009  |  Infographics

    Sprint's "now" promotion seems to be in full swing. In line with their dashboard to the universe, they're currently airing this commercial (below) that shows various statistics on things that are happening right now. Apparently, the most common text messaging topic is...diapers?
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  • A Perfect Personal Data Collection Application

    April 7, 2009  |  Self-surveillance

    The number of Web applications to collect data and information about yourself continues to grow; if you want to track something, most likely there's an online tool to do it. This is great - especially since a lot of the applications seem to have a lot of users, which means an interest in data. Whether it is deliberate or not is a different question, but you know, that doesn't really matter. What does matter is that people are taking notice. However, as users, developers, and designers, we shouldn't be satisfied too quickly with what we have. Want more. Demand more. It's interesting and oftentimes fun to log data about your life - whether it be when you go the bathroom, your sugar levels, or your mood. You get some nice graphs and charts, it looks cool, and maybe you learn something about yourself.

    But all the self-surveillance tools so far are mostly about a single dataset or two at most. You track your weight and what you eat, but it's more complex than that. Life is complicated and data is an abstraction of life after all. Do you eat when you're depressed or are you depressed when you eat? Do you feel better if you exercise? What about sleep? How much sleep and exercise is best for you? What days should you exericse and how many days in a row and for how long? What truly makes you happy? I want my self-surveillance application to not only give me the ability to find these answers but to give them to me with very little effort on my part.
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  • 24 Hours of Geotagged Photos on Flickr

    April 6, 2009  |  Mapping

    Daniel Catt from Flickr maps 24 hours worth of geotagged photos (about 64,000 of them) on this animated 3-D globe (below). The project was implemented in Processing, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone, and we've seen this type of 3-D globe thing before. What's cool here is that all the data came from the Flickr API:

    All the data was pulled down (using Processing, of all things) via the API, and probably took around 12 minutes (when it's behaving itself) as I was being a) gentle with the servers b) was getting it as JSON which takes a while for Processing to parse each page. And then written to a flat file.

    I didn't realize that public Flickr data was so accessible. Although, there wasn't really any reason for me to think otherwise. Maybe it's time to consider a little Flickr side project with some Modest Maps.

    [via Waxy]

  • Music That Makes You Dumb

    April 3, 2009  |  Misc. Visualization

    Virgil Griffith, a CalTech graduate student, follows up books that make you dumb with music that makes you dumb. "Dumb" people listen to Lil' Wayne and "smart" ones listen to Beethoven, that is, if you believe that SAT is a good judge of smarts. I'm not sure if this is actually new or just became popular again because it was in the WSJ. Virgil put up the book version over a year ago. Oh well, it's Friday. I'm personally all over the board on this one. What kind of music do you like?
    Continue Reading

  • Make This Sitcom Map More Informative

    April 2, 2009  |  Mapping

    This map from Dan Meth displays popular sitcoms by where they took place. It's a comic and totally amusing, so there's no need to pick it apart, but let's imagine for a second that it's an infographic. What could we do to make this graphic more informative? How do we turn this comic into a more useful map? Discuss amongst yourselves.

    [Thanks, Eric]

  • Data.

    April 1, 2009  |  Miscellaneous

    Dear reader,

    After much thought and arguments with myself, I've decided to quit data. It's been almost two years writing for FlowingData and almost four years as a statistics graduate student, and data never stops. I think I know what postal employees feel like. Every day is just more and more data. Gimme more. Everyone wants more - but to what end? There's too much of it. Sometimes I just want to curl up in the fetal position in the corner of my office and cry.

    Why do we need data anyways? It just makes life more complicated, and educated decisions are overrated. Guesswork is underrated. So - and it pains me to say this - I've decided to quit FlowingData and graduate school. I will be joining a traveling entertainment troupe that eats paper. I just need one of those sticks with the back on the end of it. You know, like the ones that they show on TV... with the hobos. Forget it, I can't remember. I'll just get a garbage bag.

    I hope you all understand. Like I said, I've given this a lot of thought, and this is really the best thing to do at this point of my life. Visualization, design, statistics, or computer science will never be able to handle all the data that are to come, so it's best I part ways now before it's too late. Keep an eye out for my paper-eating entertainment troupe. We don't have a name yet... and it's really just me, not so much a group. I also don't have any paper, or actually, I do have a few post-it notes. No, that won't be enough. Maybe I can be the used-napkin-eating person guy thing. I dunno. Well - keep an eye out. It will be the show to watch. Thanks everyone for reading and all of your support. Please do sign the guest book to stay up to date on the paper-eating napkin-eating troupe.

    All the best,
    Nathan

    UPDATE: Just to be clear - happy april 1 :)

  • Phrase Net Shows the Secret Life of Words

    April 1, 2009  |  Network Visualization

    Many Eyes, the social data analysis site, released another visualization tool - Phrase Nets:

    When you read a book it can feel as if you’re encountering a series of hidden networks–characters who talk to each other, ideas that relate to each other. Our new visualization, the Phrase Net, is designed to bring some of these networks to light.

    Upload a body of text and choose connecting words like and or the and the Phrase Net provides a network of words that shows these connections.
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  • New York Times Shines at International Infographics Awards

    March 31, 2009  |  Infographics

    The infographics and news design blogs have been buzzing the past few days with the announcement of this year's Malofiej awards, which is essentially the awards ceremony for graphics in the news. There were winners from many papers around the world, but as you might expect, The New York Times shined brightest. The Times took home the Peter Sullivan Award (best in show) for Ebb and Flow at the Box Office (above) as well as the Miguel Urabayen Award (best map) for the Electoral Explorer (below).
    Continue Reading

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