• Happy new year around the world

    January 6, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Happy new year around the world

    New Year's is a worldwide event, but as we know, it doesn't happen simultaneously everywhere. Midnight happens in different time zones and in various languages, so Krist Wongsuphasawat from Twitter visualized the event in an animated interactive, as people tweeted happy new year around the world. Press play and see how it happened.

    The best part is that UTC+01:00 area that covers Central Europe and Western Africa. Spikes in 16 languages by my count.

  • New members perk: Download all tutorials as ebook

    January 3, 2014  |  Announcements

    FlowingData TutorialsThe great thing about online tutorials is that you can access them from anywhere you have an internet connection. The downside is that, unless you download all of the tutorials individually (and their code), you can't access them when you don't have an internet connection.

    So I saved you the trouble, and members can now download all the FlowingData tutorials as a DRM-free ebook for their iOS device (.epub), Kindle (.mobi), or any other digital device (.pdf). You can also get all the code at once in a single zipped file.

    Just go to the members-only downloads page to grab the files you want.

    I'll update the ebook each year.

    Of course if you're not a member yet, you're more than welcome to sign up for instant access.

  • How Netflix creates movie micro-genres

    January 3, 2014  |  Statistics

    Alexis Madrigal and Ian Bogost for The Atlantic reverse engineered the Netflix genre generator, analyzed the data, and then made their own. Then they talked to Todd Yellin, the guy at Netflix who created the micro-genre system. It's no accident when you see altgenres like "Visually-striking Goofy Action & Adventure" and "Sentimental set in Europe Dramas from the 1970s" in your browser.

    The Netflix Quantum Theory doc spelled out ways of tagging movie endings, the "social acceptability" of lead characters, and dozens of other facets of a movie. Many values are "scalar," that is to say, they go from 1 to 5. So, every movie gets a romance rating, not just the ones labeled "romantic" in the personalized genres. Every movie's ending is rated from happy to sad, passing through ambiguous. Every plot is tagged. Lead characters' jobs are tagged. Movie locations are tagged. Everything. Everyone.

    That's the data at the base of the pyramid. It is the basis for creating all the altgenres that I scraped. Netflix's engineers took the microtags and created a syntax for the genres, much of which we were able to reproduce in our generator.

    Be sure to play around with Bogost's generator at the top. It will amuse.

  • Body maps show where we feel emotion

    January 2, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Body maps

    Engineering and psychology researchers in Finland investigated where we feel and don't feel.

    The team showed the volunteers two blank silhouettes of person on a screen and then told the subjects to think about one of 14 emotions: love, disgust, anger, pride, etc. The volunteers then painted areas of the body that felt stimulated by that emotion. On the second silhouette, they painted areas of the body that get deactivated during that emotion.

    The body maps above show the results of the survey. As you'd expect, the body looks like it shuts down with depression, and it lights up with happiness, but it's the subtle differences that are most interesting. I like the contrast between pride and anger, a difference of fists and feet.

    Check out the full paper for more details. [via NPR]

  • Clusters of single malt Scotch whiskies

    January 1, 2014  |  Statistics

    Luba Gloukhov of Revolution Analytics used k-means clustering to find groups of single malt Scotch whiskies. Because you know, New Year's morning is when whisky is on everyone's mind.

    The first time I had an Islay single malt, my mind was blown. In my first foray into the world of whiskies, I took the plunge into the smokiest, peatiest beast of them all — Laphroig. That same night, dreams of owning a smoker were replaced by the desire to roam the landscape of smoky single malts.

    As an Islay fan, I wanted to investigate whether distilleries within a given region do in fact share taste characteristics. For this, I used a dataset profiling 86 distilleries based on 12 flavor categories.

    The result is essentially a mini recommendation system for the fine liquor, and the code is there, so you can see how it works.

  • Statistics Done Wrong, a guide to common analysis mistakes

    December 31, 2013  |  Statistics

    Alex Reinhart, a PhD statistics student at Carnegie Mellon University, covers some of the common analysis mistakes in Statistics Done Wrong.

    Statistics Done Wrong is a guide to the most popular statistical errors and slip-ups committed by scientists every day, in the lab and in peer-reviewed journals. Many of the errors are prevalent in vast swathes of the published literature, casting doubt on the findings of thousands of papers. Statistics Done Wrong assumes no prior knowledge of statistics, so you can read it before your first statistics course or after thirty years of scientific practice.

    The text is available for free online, and there's a physical book version on the way.

  • Weightless Project uses personal tracker data to abate hunger and obesity

    December 30, 2013  |  Self-surveillance

    The Weightless Project gives you another reason to use your Jawbone or Fitbit that you got for Christmas this year (or to dig out the one you used for a week and forgot about). For every 1,000 calories lost, a dollar is donated to food relief programs.

    Hopeful.

  • Happy holidays

    December 24, 2013  |  Personal

    Happy Holidays from FlowingData

    Checking out for the year. I assume most of you have already, and if not, go on, get out of here. Shoo. Happy holidays. I tip my glass in your general direction.

  • FlowingData Job Board, December 2013

    December 24, 2013  |  Job Board

    Looking to get a jumpstart on that new year's resolution to find a new job? I've got some listings for you.

    Data Scientist at Thumbtack in San Francisco, CA.

    Content Marketing Manager in New York, NY.

    Data Analyst at Beats Music in San Francisco, CA.

    Data Scientist/Statistician at WeddingWire in Chevy Chase, MD.

    Software Engineer at Civis Analytics in Chicago, IL.

  • Iron Maiden uses piracy data for tour locations

    December 24, 2013  |  Statistics

    When you hear "piracy data" and "music" in the same sentence, it usually ends with exorbitant fines. Iron Maiden took a different route.

    In the case of Iron Maiden, still a top-drawing band in the U.S. and Europe after thirty years, it noted a surge in traffic in South America. Also, it saw that Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Columbia, and Chile were among the top 10 countries with the most Iron Maiden Twitter followers. There was also a huge amount of BitTorrent traffic in South America, particularly in Brazil.

    Rather than send in the lawyers, Maiden sent itself in. The band has focused extensively on South American tours in recent years, one of which was filmed for the documentary "Flight 666." After all, fans can't download a concert or t-shirts. The result was massive sellouts. The São Paolo show alone grossed £1.58 million (US$2.58 million) alone.

  • Evolution of reddit in stacked areas

    December 23, 2013  |  Statistical Visualization

    Evolution of reddit

    Computer science PhD student Randy Olson likes to analyze reddit in his spare time. We saw his network of subreddits already, but his look earlier this year at the evolution of reddit is more interesting. The yearly breakdowns and explanations are the best part. I'm relatively new to reddit (and totally feel like an old man when I visit), so it's fun to see what the site used to be. More news and fewer Scumbag Steves, with a humble beginning in nsfw?

  • Highway traffic reorganized by color

    December 20, 2013  |  Data Art

    In the video above, filmmaker Cy Kuckenbaker reorganized midday traffic by color. No computer-generated elements required.

    In this new video I took a four minute shot of state highway 163, which is San Diego's first freeway then removed the time between cars passing and reorganized them according to color. I was curious to see what the city’s car color palette looked like when broken down. We are a car culture after all. I was surprised that the vast majority of cars are colorless: white, gray and black. The bigger surprise though was just how many cars passed in four minutes of what looked like light traffic: 462 cars.

  • Military footprint

    December 19, 2013  |  Mapping

    Military footprint

    Similar to his collection of prison map snapshots, Josh Begley collected images of military bases around the world.

    In addition to the map -- which is built using MapBox, an open source and user-friendly publishing platform -- I've included snapshots of the earth's surface at various latitudes and longitudes. What does a military base look like from above? Which installations are secret and which can be viewed on the open internet? Running a small Processing sketch to query the Google Maps and Bing Maps APIs, I grabbed a satellite image for each point and am displaying the collection as a simple lightbox gallery.

  • Data scientist surpasses statistician on Google Trends

    December 18, 2013  |  Statistics

    Statisician vs Data Scientist on Google Trends

    The relative interest in data scientist surpassed statistician this month. It was also higher in April and September of this year, so it's not new, but it does seem like it's ready to be a consistent thing, at least least for a little while. That said, it doesn't seem like statistician is losing interest to data scientist, as the former has been fairly consistent for the past few years, so take that how you want.

  • Earth wind map

    December 17, 2013  |  Mapping

    Earth wind map

    Remember the wind map of the United States by Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viegas? Cameron Beccario made one for Earth, based on data from the Global Forecast System.

  • Network of subreddits

    December 17, 2013  |  Network Visualization

    Reddit viz

    There are over 5,000 subreddits with plenty of overlap and similarities. Randy Olson graphed them based on link activity and users and put them in an interactive. The overall view isn't that useful (other than easily spotting the My Little Pony-themed outlier cluster in the top right), but if you use reddit and are familiar with the territory, it can be fun to browse.

  • Data and visualization year in review, 2013

    Data and visualization year in review, 2013

    Visualization continues to mature and focus more on the data it represents than on novel designs and size. Let's have a look back.
  • Airport billboard encourages wonderment

    December 13, 2013  |  Visualization

    Airports conjure thoughts of security, bag checks, and cramped spaces, and flights are hardly something to look forward to. British Airways wants to bring the magic back with these real-time billboards. As a British Airway flight passes overhead, a child appears and points up to the plane in awe, along with text that says where the plane is from. [Thanks, Jonathan]

  • State gun laws since Newtown

    December 12, 2013  |  Infographics

    Gun laws by NYT

    The New York Times explored state gun bills since Newtown.

    In the 12 months since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., almost every state has enacted at least one new gun law. Nearly two-thirds of the new laws ease restrictions and expand the rights of gun owners. Most of those bills were approved in states controlled by Republicans. Those who support stricter regulations won some victories — mostly in states where the legislature and governorship are controlled by Democrats — to increase restrictions on gun use and ownership.

    Each chart shows the timeline of a bill and rounds of legislation. A law is signed when the line reaches the top, where green represents looser gun restrictions and orange represents tighter.

  • Uncertain cartographies

    December 11, 2013  |  Mapping

    Uncertain cartography

    Most people know the layout of their neighborhoods and some are good with the roads in their town. Zoom out farther though — to your city, state, and country — and the landscape grows fuzzy in your imagination. Cartographer Chris McDowall redrew his uncertainty of his native New Zealand with interesting, fuzzy results.

    The maps on this page are an attempt to translate my head landscapes into cartographic artefacts. I am trying to recreate of what I see when I close my eyes. They are rough approximations—the stuff in my head is far stranger and more difficult to pin down—but they feel honest. I share them because I find them beautiful and evocative.

Unless otherwise noted, graphics and words by me are licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC. Contact original authors for everything else.