• CSV Fingerprint: Spot errors in your data at a glance

    August 14, 2014  |  Online Applications

    CSV Fingerprint

    You get your CSV file, snuggle under your blanket with a glass of fine wine, all ready for the perfect Saturday night. Then — what the heck — there's a bunch of missing data and poorly formatted entries. Don't let this happen to you. CSV Fingerprint by Victor Powell provides a simple, wideout view of your CSV file, color-coded for quick quality control.

    To make it easier to spot mistakes, I've made a "CSV Fingerprint" viewer (named after the "Fashion Fingerprints" from The New York Times's "Front Row to Fashion Week" interactive ). The idea is to provide a birdseye view of the file without too much distracting detail. The idea is similar to Tufte's Image Quilts...a qualitative view, as opposed to a rendering of the data in the file themselves. In this sense, the CSV Fingerprint is a sort of meta visualization.

    Try it with your own CSV data. Never let a subpar CSV file ruin your Saturday night again.

  • State of birth, by state and over time

    August 14, 2014  |  Infographics

    Where people in Idaho were born

    We've seen migration within the United States before, but Gregor Aisch, Robert Gebeloff, and Kevin Quealy for the Upshot take a more time-centric look at how people moved state to state, over the past century.

    The following charts document domestic migration since the turn of the last century, based on census data. For every state, we've broken down the population by resident's state of birth. The ribbons are color-coded by region, and foreign-born residents are included at the bottom, in gray, to complete the picture for each state.

    The good thing about the ribbon approach, other than the flow-like aesthetic that lends well to the topic, is that you can see the change in order through the years. Unlike a stacked area chart, each layer isn't restricted to an original ranking, so you can for instance, see that a lot of people born in California moved to Idaho starting in the 1960s.

    On top of that, there are lots of nice details like ribbons move to the top when you mouse over, labels that follow the time series pattern, and a thicker highlight bar at each point in time. All of these make the data easier to read.

    Check out the details of your state and others.

  • Interactive documentary takes you through space and orbits

    August 14, 2014  |  Mapping

    Interactive video for space

    Impressive work in A Spacecraft for All:

    This Chrome Experiment follows the unlikely odyssey of the ISEE-3, a spacecraft launched in 1978 to study the Sun, but better known for its amazing accomplishments beyond that original mission. "A Spacecraft for All" is an interactive documentary combining film and 3D graphics, allowing you to follow the spacecraft's story as you trace it along its entire 36 year journey.

    The combination of video and interactive sometimes feels gimmicky, but this feels like they belong together. The interactive portion lets you casually interact in space and look at orbit paths, and the video portion explains what you're looking at. Guidance comes when necessary.

  • Where the poor live, a decade comparison

    August 13, 2014  |  Mapping

    Poverty and race in America

    To better understand race and poverty, MetroTrends maps where people live whose income is below the poverty line.

    The history, geography, and politics of individual metro regions all matter profoundly, and any serious policy strategy must be tailored to local realities.

    To help take the policy conversation from the general to the specific, we offer a new mapping tool. It lets you explore changes from 1980 to 2010 in where poor people of different races and ethnicities lived, for every metropolitan region nationwide.

    Each dot, color-coded by race, represents 20 people. So when you slide between views for 1980 and 2010, you see how areas have grown more or less diverse, increased or decreased in covered areas, and perhaps areas in need of more attention.

  • Nearest casino

    Looking For the Closest Casino

    Casinos are everywhere. This interactive map tells you how close the nearest one is in sampled areas of the United States.
  • Vector maps on the web with Mapbox GL

    August 12, 2014  |  Software

    Mapbox GL

    Online mapping just got an upgrade:

    Announcing Mapbox GL JS — a fast and powerful new system for web maps. Mapbox GL JS is a client-side renderer, so it uses JavaScript and WebGL to dynamically draw data with the speed and smoothness of a video game. Instead of fixing styles and zoom levels at the server level, Mapbox GL puts power in JavaScript, allowing for dynamic styling and freeform interactivity.

    For the non-developers: Online maps are typically stored pre-made on a server, in the form of a bunch of image files that are stitched together when you zoom in and out of a map. So developers have to periodically update the image files if they want their base maps to change. It's a hassle, which is why base maps often look similar. With Mapbox GL, making changes is easier because the development pipeline is shorter.

    More details on the JavaScript library here.

  • Mapping the spread of drought, nationally

    August 11, 2014  |  Mapping

    Drought time series

    Although California has perhaps had it the worst, drought also affects other states, mainly the southwestern ones. Mike Bostock and Kevin Quealy for the New York Times have been updating an animated map weekly. It shows the spread of drought severity, across the United States. But, be sure to scroll down to also see drought levels over time, shown as stacked area chart.

    See also: NPR drought tracking from a couple of years ago.

  • California drought in small multiples

    August 11, 2014  |  Visualization

    LA Times - California drought

    To show the increased levels of drought throughout the state of California, Kyle Kim and Thomas Suh Lauder for the LA Times showed weekly change in drought levels with 188 color-coded California maps. There's also an animated version, but why do that when you can scrollllll?

    A couple of years ago, the New York Times did something similar, but with a two-category color scale and on a national scale.

  • Geography.

    August 8, 2014  |  Mistaken Data

    Geography

    By way of David Kennerr, something in this CNN frame seems off.

  • Markov Chains explained visually

    August 8, 2014  |  Statistics

    Markov chain

    Adding on to their series of graphics to explain statistical concepts, Victor Powell and Lewis Lehe use a set of interactives to describe Markov Chains. Even if you already know what Markov Chains are or use them regularly, you can use the full-screen version to enter your own set of transition probabilities. Then let the simulation run.

    Nice. Should be especially useful for educators.

  • Salaries by Industry

    Where People Work and How Much They Make

    Salaries for occupations with the same job title can vary across industries. This interactive shows you by how much and who works where.
  • Accessible Web visuals and code with p5.js

    August 7, 2014  |  Coding

    p5 JavaScript library

    Visualization on the Web can be tricky for those unfamiliar with code. The new JavaScript library p5.js, developed by Lauren McCarthy and collaborators, aims to make your first steps easier and less painful.

    Using the original metaphor of a software sketchbook, p5.js has a full set of drawing functionality. However, you're not limited to your drawing canvas, you can think of your whole browser page as your sketch! For this, p5.js has addon libraries that make it easy to interact with other HTML5 objects, including text, input, video, webcam, and sound.

    The library follows some of the same philosophy as Processing — that is, straightforward to get up and running — and reimagines the implementation and approach for recent web technology. Even if you're not into programming, it's worth visiting if just to watch, listen, and interact with Dan Shiffman as he enthusiastically talks about the library.

  • Wi-Fi strength revealed in physical space

    August 6, 2014  |  Data Art

    Personal hotspot

    Digital Ethereal is a project that explores wireless, making what's typically invisible visible and tangible. In the piece above, a handheld sensor is used to detect the strength of Wi-Fi signal from a personal hotspot. A person waves the sensor around the area, and long-exposure photography captures the patterns.

    Reminds me of the Immaterials project from a while back, which used a light stick to represent signal strength rather than a signal light.

  • Visual Microphone estimates sound from vibrations in objects

    August 5, 2014  |  Statistics

    A group of researchers from MIT, Microsoft Research, and Adobe Research are experimenting with seemingly inanimate objects as a proxy for sound in the vicinity. They call it the Visual Microphone.

    When sound hits an object, it causes small vibrations of the object's surface. We show how, using only high-speed video of the object, we can extract those minute vibrations and partially recover the sound that produced them, allowing us to turn everyday objects—a glass of water, a potted plant, a box of tissues, or a bag of chips—into visual microphones.

    See the demo in the video above. It's impressive. It's also great that there's another use for high speed video other than watching water balloons pop and guns fire on the Discovery Channel.

    Find more details on the project here.

  • Google Doodle Venn diagram

    August 4, 2014  |  Visualization

    Google Doodle Venn

    In celebration of John Venn's 180th birthday, today's Google Doodle produces a Venn diagram with the two O's in Google's name. Click the play button for a little bit of entertainment.

    For more Venn fun, see also Muppet name etymology, the Venn pie-agram, and what makes a platypus playing a keytar.

  • Cultural history via where notable people died

    August 4, 2014  |  Mapping

    A group of researchers used where "notable individuals" were born and place of death, based on data from Freebase, as a lens into culture history. The video explainer below shows some results:

    From Nature:

    The team used those data to create a movie that starts in 600 bc and ends in 2012. Each person's birth place appears on a map of the world as a blue dot and their death as a red dot. The result is a way to visualize cultural history — as a city becomes more important, more notable people die there.

    Before you jump to too many conclusions, keep in mind where the data comes from. Freebase is kind of like Wikipedia for data, so you get cultural bias towards the United States and Europe. There are fewer data points just about everywhere else.

    Therefore, avoid the inclination to think that such and such city or country looks unimportant, focus on the data that's there and compare to what else is in the vicinity. From this angle, this is interesting stuff. [Science via Nature | Thanks, Mauro]

  • Mathematically correct bagel

    August 1, 2014  |  Miscellaneous

    I don't know about you, but I like my bagel as two roughly cut, congruent linked halves. I usually use a fork, aluminum foil, and some duct tape. No more. George Hart demonstrates a better way to do it. It's a good thing too, because I was running low on duct tape.

  • This is Statistics

    July 31, 2014  |  Statistics

    Statistics has an image problem. To the general public, it's old, out of touch, and boring. It's a problem because we place stock in a younger generation who we (1) want to be more data literate and (2) eventually lead the way, or at least participate, in all data-related realms. It's beneficial for everyone.

    This is Statistics is a new push by the American Statistical Association to provide a new perspective that doesn't dwell on sheets of equations.

    From the about:

    We want students and parents to have a better understanding of a field that is often unknown or misunderstood. Statistics is not just a collection of numbers or formulas. It's not just lines, bars or points on a graph. It's not just computing. Statistics is so much more. It's an exciting—even fun—way of looking at the world and gaining insights through a scientific approach that rewards creative thinking.

    In brief: Statistics is not lame.

    If you're reading this, you already know the benefits of learning statistics, but for those who question, at least you have somewhere to send them.

    When I told my parents that I wanted to go to graduate school for statistics, they were concerned. They never pushed me in any direction career-wise, just as long as I tried my best and enjoyed what I did. But, this was the one time they sat me down for a talk.

    Was I sure about this statistics thing? What do people do after? Was I pursuing statistics for the right reasons? It's so much easier to answer those questions now than it was ten years ago. I mean, careers in data are in the news all the time now. I'm glad the ASA is working on making the statistics portion of the data push more obvious.

  • Network visualization game to understand how a disease spreads

    July 31, 2014  |  Network Visualization

    Vax game

    Vax, a game by Ellsworth Campbell and Isaac Bromley, explores how a disease spreads through a network, starting with just one infected person. It's a simple concept that works well.

    When you start the game, you have a network of uninfected people. The more connected a person is, the more chances that person can infect others upon his or her own infection. Your goal is to strategically administer a limited supply of vaccinations and to quarantine people to prevent as many infections as you can.

    Fun and educational. Woo.

  • Explorations of People Movements

    July 30, 2014  |  Mapping

    Running

    In 2010, I surveyed visual explorations of traffic, and it was all about how cars, planes, trains, and ships moved about their respective landscapes. It was implied that the moving things had people in them, but the focus was mostly on the things themselves. Location data was a byproduct of the need of vehicles to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible.

    Airplanes floated across the sky. Cabs left ghostly trails in the city. The visualization projects were, and still are, impressive.

    However, around the same time, it was growing more common for people to carry phones with GPS capability and these days, it's commonplace in areas where most people use smartphones. This new data source gave rise to similar but different visualization projects that were more granular.

    We see people. Movements.
    Continue Reading

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