• Test your geographic knowledge in Google map game

    July 7, 2014  |  Mapping

    Smarty Pins

    Smarty Pins is a simple, fun map game by Google. You get a trivia clue about some location, and the goal is to drop the pin as close as you can to the correct place. You start with 1,000 miles, and you get docked each time for how far your choice was from the actual location.

    For more on how little you know about where stuff is, see also the state matching game and the Mercator map puzzle.

  • What pregnant women want

    May 26, 2014  |  Statistics

    What pregnant women search for

    In another take on the game of what Google suggests while searching, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz for The New York Times looked at queries related to pregnant women. Some searches were similar across countries, whereas others varied culturally.

    Start with questions about what pregnant women can do safely. The top questions in the United States: Can pregnant women "eat shrimp," "drink wine," "drink coffee" or "take Tylenol"?

    But other countries don't look much like the United States or one another. Whether pregnant women can "drink wine" is not among the top 10 questions in Canada, Australia or Britain. Australia's concerns are mostly related to eating dairy products while pregnant, particularly cream cheese. In Nigeria, where 30 percent of the population uses the Internet, the top question is whether pregnant women can drink cold water.

    Stephens-Davidowitz's analysis is mostly anecdotal but a fun read.

    I want to see something like this direct from Google, with more rigor. Now that would be interesting.

  • Near-real-time global forest watch

    February 24, 2014  |  Mapping

    Global forest watch

    Global Forest Watch uses satellite imagery and other technologies to estimate forest usage, change, and tree cover (among other things). These estimates and their eventual actions used to be slow. Now they're near-real-time.

    This is about to change with the launch of Global Forest Watch—an online forest monitoring system created by the World Resources Institute, Google and a group of more than 40 partners. Global Forest Watch uses technologies including Google Earth Engine and Google Maps Engine to map the world’s forests with satellite imagery, detect changes in forest cover in near-real-time, and make this information freely available to anyone with Internet access.

    Many layers and high granularity. Take your time with this one.

  • Music timeline of plays and history

    January 17, 2014  |  Statistical Visualization

    Music timeline

    Two Google research groups, Big Picture and Music Intelligence, got together and made a music timeline baby.

    The Music Timeline shows genres of music waxing and waning, based on how many Google Play Music users have an artist or album in their music library, and other data (such as album release dates). Each stripe on the graph represents a genre; the thickness of the stripe tells you roughly the popularity of music released in a given year in that genre. (For example, the "jazz" stripe is thick in the 1950s since many users' libraries contain jazz albums released in the '50s.) Click on the stripes to zoom into more specialized genres.

    As you'd expect, the initial view is a stacked area chart that represents the popularity of genres over time, which feels fairly familiar, but then you interact with the stacks and it gets more interesting and almost surprisingly fast. The best part is the pointers to specific albums as you mouse over.

  • Digital attack map

    October 25, 2013  |  Mapping

    Digital Attack Map

    A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack attempts to disable a site or web service by sending a ton of requests from multiple sources. Essentially, the server buckles under the pressure. Sometimes this is done to silence sites that the attackers disagree with, or they might try to take advantage of business backends.

    The Digital Attack Map, a collaboration between Google Ideas and Arbor Networks, shows current attacks and serves as a browser for past attacks around the world. Color and size indicate the type of attack and movement represents origins and destinations.

  • Line maps, Google Places API, and R

    Working with Line Maps, the Google Places API, and R

    A frequent challenge of visualization is behind the scenes, to get the data and to mold it into the format you need. Do that. Then map.
  • Etymology and word usage when you ‘define’ with Google

    August 30, 2013  |  Visualization

    Pro tip: When you Google "define <INSERT WORD HERE>" and open the information card, you can see the etymology of the word in flowchart form and word usage over time.

    Define hipster

    [via @wattenberg]

  • Introduction to R, a video series by Google

    August 13, 2013  |  Software

    Google released a 21-part short video series that introduces R. Most of the videos are about two minutes, with none of them going over six, and each one is a on focused task or concept. So this could be a good way to start. Just open R, start a video, and follow along.

    Here's the first video in the series. It shows you how to write a simple script and navigate:

    [via Revolutions]

  • Google search suggestions by country

    August 8, 2013  |  Statistics

    Search suggestions by country

    Google search suggestions have transformed into a never-ending source of entertainment and a candid peek into what people look for in the world. We've seen insecurities change with age and stereotypes of states in the US. Noah Veltman banked on the locality of suggestions for a country-specific view of the world. He shows suggestions for the same query for the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

    For example, a search for "why is America" in each country depicts stereotypes and national curiosities about why America is so fat, rich, and better than Canada. Scroll down and you see suggestions for "how to", "why is there", and "why does everyone" which interestingly shows many of the same wonderings.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go eat bacon and swim in my pool of gold coins while I browse through my vastly superior Netflix selection.

  • A quarter century of satellite imagery

    May 21, 2013  |  Mapping

    Picture of Earth through time

    In collaboration between USGS, NASA and TIME, Google released a quarter century of satellite imagery to see how the world has changed over time.

    The images were collected as part of an ongoing joint mission between the USGS and NASA called Landsat. Their satellites have been observing earth from space since the 1970s—with all of the images sent back to Earth and archived on USGS tape drives that look something like this example (courtesy of the USGS).

    We started working with the USGS in 2009 to make this historic archive of earth imagery available online. Using Google Earth Engine technology, we sifted through 2,068,467 images—a total of 909 terabytes of data—to find the highest-quality pixels (e.g., those without clouds), for every year since 1984 and for every spot on Earth. We then compiled these into enormous planetary images, 1.78 terapixels each, one for each year.

    Be sure to check out the Timelapse feature on Time.

  • Insecurities of age through the eyes of Google Suggest

    April 26, 2013  |  Miscellaneous

    In this straightforward video, Marius Budin offers a look at our insecurities as get older through the eyes of Google Suggest. If anything, it's clear that there's one thing we fear throughout: loneliness. Although, the suggestions in the early years worry me.

  • Beautiful interactive tour of the galaxy

    November 15, 2012  |  Mapping

    Galaxy

    In a beautiful rendition of the galaxy, Google visualized 100,000 stars, starting at the sun and out to a view of the Milky Way. Start with the tour, which takes you through an overview of what there is to see, and then explore on your own. Specifically, once you zoom out over four light years away from the sun, you start to see other known stars. Click on the labels for information and a closer look at what looks like flaming balls of lava. [via @pitchinc]

  • Global cloud coverage

    September 26, 2012  |  Mapping

    Global cloud coverage

    In the latest Chrome experiment, Google mapped cloud coverage around the world in Cloud Globe. The interactive animation shows coverage from July 1, 2010 to September 12, 2012, with a globe that you can move around as expected and a timeline on the bottom that indicates high levels of coverage. As the animation plays through, storms are highlighted with a circle and pointer. Finally, you can turn on the vegetation layer, and the green regions happen to be under the clouds. Imagine that.

  • State stereotypes suggested by Google

    August 9, 2012  |  Mapping

    Why are Americans so fat

    Renee DiResta got to wondering about state stereotypes, so she looked them up on Google and mapped them.

    In the months before a US Presidential election, the quality of political discourse hits new lows. Blue State/Red State tropes dominate the news cycle as the media gins up outrage over perceived injustices in the culture wars. It’s all about our differences. So I started wondering, how do Americans really think about "those people" in other states? What are the most common stereotypes? For each of the fifty states and DC, I asked Google: "Why is [State] so ” and let it autocomplete. It seemed like an ideal question to get at popular assumptions, since “Why is [State] so X?" presupposes that X is true.

    Roll over a state on the map, and the top four suggestions are listed. Hilarity ensues. "Why is California so... liberal, broke, anti-gun, and expensive?"

    [via @rachelbinx]

  • Ascii Street View

    July 31, 2012  |  Mapping

    Ascii Streetview

    Peter Nitsch created Ascii Street View, converting Google Street View to colored letters. Search for a location and experience the retro goodness. [via Waxy]

  • Endangered languages project

    June 25, 2012  |  Mapping

    Endangered languages

    Google, in collaboration with Vizzuality, are trying to catalog endangered languages before they are gone forever in the Endangered Languages Project.

    Humanity today is facing a massive extinction: languages are disappearing at an unprecedented pace. And when that happens, a unique vision of the world is lost. With every language that dies we lose an enormous cultural heritage; the understanding of how humans relate to the world around us; scientific, medical and botanical knowledge; and most importantly, we lose the expression of communities’ humor, love and life. In short, we lose the testimony of centuries of life.

    A map on the homepage gets the most attention. Each small dot represents a language, and they are color-coded by endangerment risk. Click on one to get more details about the language or add information yourself to improve the records. Zoom out and the counts aggregate for an overview.

  • Income inequality seen in satellite images from Google Earth

    June 6, 2012  |  Mapping

    Income inequality

    Researchers Pengyu Zhua and Yaoqi Zhang noted in their 2008 paper that "the demand for urban forests is elastic with respect to price and highly responsive to changes in income." Poor neighborhoods tend to have fewer trees and the rate of forestry growth is slower than that of richer neighborhoods.

    Tim De Chant of Per Square Mile wondered if this difference could be seen through satellite images in Google Earth. It turns out that you can see the distinct difference in a lot of places. Above, for example, shows two areas in Rio de Janeiro: Rocinha on the left and Zona Sul on the right. Notice the tree-lined streets versus the not so green.

    De Chant notes:

    It's easy to see trees as a luxury when a city can barely keep its roads and sewers in working order, but that glosses over the many benefits urban trees provide. They shade houses in the summer, reducing cooling bills. They scrub the air of pollution, especially of the particulate variety, which in many poor neighborhoods is responsible for increased asthma rates and other health problems. They also reduce stress, which has its own health benefits. Large, established trees can even fight crime.

    Okay, I don't now about that last part about fighting crime. Without seeing the data, I think that sounds like a correlation more than anything else, but still. Trees. Good.

    [via Boing Boing]

  • Geography of incarceration

    June 6, 2012  |  Mapping

    Geography of incarceration

    New York University graduate student Josh Begley grabbed 4,916 satellite images of prisons via the Google Maps API and put them all in one place. It's called Prison Map.

    The United States is the prison capital of the world. This is not news to most people. When discussing the idea of mass incarceration, we often trot out numbers and dates and charts to explain the growth of imprisonment as both a historical phenomenon and a present-day reality.

    But what does the geography of incarceration in the US actually look like? Prison Map is my attempt to answer that question.

    Most are isolated boxes surrounded by a lot of field, but oddly there are some in close proximity to residential. There's one towards the bottom that actually does look like a residential area. Either it's a blip or grandma is running a prison in the basement. Probably the former.

  • The Facebook Offering: How It Compares

    May 18, 2012  |  Visualization  |  Kim Rees

    Facebook IPO

    The New York Times does it again with this succinct look at tech IPOs. It begins with looking at everything through the lens of when Google's IPO in 2004, which, at the time, was considered huge. The next screen adds Facebook to the mix which dwarfs everything prior. It continues on to show the first day of trading pop and where things landed long term (3 years post-IPO).

    It's a very interesting view of IPOs and could actually be a good financial analysis tool with a few more features.

  • 8-bit Google Maps, Start Your Quest

    March 31, 2012  |  Mapping

    8-bit Google Maps

    If you go to Google Maps right now, there's an option in the top right corner for a Quest view. Click on that, and get the world in all its 8-bit NES glory. And great news: The map adventure is coming to an NES console near you. Just put in the cartridge, connect to the Internet via dial-up, and you're off to the races. See the world like you've never seen it before.

    Google explains in the video below.
    Continue Reading

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