• Members Only
    December 20, 2018

    Edward Tufte criticized R for not being able to do some things typographically. It came in a tweet and was likely misunderstood. Sort of. I got a clarification from the man himself.

  • December 20, 2018


    Mistaken Data  /  , ,

    Computers can generate faces that look real. What a time to be alive. As it becomes easier to do so, you can bet that the software will be used at some point for less innocent reasons. You should probably know how to tell the difference between fake and real. Kyle McDonald provides a guide to the telltale signs of AI-generated faces.

  • December 19, 2018

    In visual perception, a figure-ground grouping is where you recognize an object through the background. Think of the vase and two faces image. Hans Hack made a simple tool that lets you make such a diagram using OpenStreetMap data. Select a location in the world, adjust the radius of the circle, provide a label, and voilà, you have yourself a poster. Download it as an image or SVG file.

  • December 18, 2018

    Euclid’s Elements is a series of 13 books produced in 300 BC that forms a collection of mathematician Euclid’s proofs and definitions. In 1847, Oliver Byrne recreated the first six books “in which coloured diagrams and symbols are used instead of letters for the greater ease of learners.” Nicholas Rougeux recreated Byrne’s work with an online interactive version:

    This site was created to bring Byrne’s colorful edition to life by making it available to a modern audience by reproducing the entire book online so it would be accessible to anyone with modern equipment and a flexible design as true to the original as possible. Each diagram was created by tracing the originals and ensuring their dimensions and relationships stayed true to Euclid’s geometric principles. Proofs accompanying each diagram have been enhanced with clickable shapes to aid in understanding the shapes being referenced.

    What glorious tedium. Read more on Rougeux’s process here. See also his previous recreation of the 1821 Nomenclature of Colours.

  • December 17, 2018

    The debate rages on about the categorization of food items as soup, salad, or sandwich. Is a hot dog a sandwich? It has meat in bread. At what ratio of solid to liquid does a stew become a soup? The Soup-Salad-Sandwich Space makes the classifications more explicit. You’re welcome.

  • December 14, 2018


    Sketchbook  /  ,

    As I watched Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai field questions from the House Judiciary Committee it was hard not to feel like there was a big gap in how the internet works and how members of Congress think it works. Many suggested the gap was related to age, so I couldn’t help but wonder how the age distribution has changed over the years.

    You can see the median age shifting older, but I’m not totally sure what to make of it. After all, the population as a whole is getting older too. On the other hand, the internet changed a lot of things in our lives, and the hope is that those forming the policies understand the ins and outs.

  • Members Only
    December 13, 2018


    The Process  /  ,

    Google announced that Fusion Tables will be laid to rest, which highlights a need for preservation of visualization for the long-term.

  • December 13, 2018

    The New York Times takes a closer look at the data that apps collect and what they know about you:

    At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information, The Times found. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States — about half those in use last year. The database reviewed by The Times — a sample of information gathered in 2017 and held by one company — reveals people’s travels in startling detail, accurate to within a few yards and in some cases updated more than 14,000 times a day.

    The animated visuals in this piece are nice, strengthening the big numbers with small anecdotes. Because the only way to make people care about data privacy is to be as creepy (but responsible) as possible.

  • Single-Income Occupations

    About 18 percent of couple households are single-income. I wanted to know what the earner in these homes usually do.

  • December 11, 2018

    Deliveroo is a service that picks up and delivers food. Data from their delivery riders showed that it was faster to ride a bike than other modes of transportation in cities. Carlton Reid for Forbes:

    Smartphone data from riders and drivers schlepping meals for restaurant-to-home courier service Deliveroo shows that bicycles are faster than cars. In towns and cities, bicyclists are also often faster than motorized two-wheelers. Deliveroo works with 30,000 riders and drivers in 13 countries.

    That bicyclists are faster in cities will come as no surprise to bicycle advocates who have staged so-called “commuter races” for many years. However, these races – organized to highlight the swiftness of urban cycling – are usually staged in locations and at hours skewed towards bicycle riders. The Deliveroo stats are significant because they have been extracted from millions of actual journeys.

    I used to play this game in graduate school often. The bus would get stuck in traffic. I would get off and walk home instead in the most thrilling races the world has ever seen. So for cities, these results make a lot of sense. Maybe not so much for the burbs though.

  • December 10, 2018

    Based on data from Expedia, this is an interesting one from The Economist. Using polar coordinates, they used angle to represent percentage change in ticket prices and the radius to represent the distance of a flight.

    Too bad they couldn’t get more data from Expedia. I would’ve liked to see the price changes for more flights, especially shorter ones to use as a point of comparison.

  • December 7, 2018


    Statistics  /  , ,

    I’m just gonna put this xkcd comic right here.

  • December 7, 2018


    Maps  /  , ,

    You’ve seen the maps of population density. You’ve seen the jokes. But you haven’t seen population at high granularity in a 3-D view. Matt Daniels for The Pudding used a mountain metaphor to show the peaks and valleys of population around the world.

    You get more out of the data in this view than you would the overhead, which tends to obscure the variation in large cities. Although if you must, Daniels also provides the typical view to reference.

  • December 6, 2018

    Mark Hansen for The Upshot describes the search for balance between individual privacy and an accurate 2020 Census count. It turns out to not be that difficult to reconstruct person-level data from publicly available aggregates:

    On the face of it, finding a reconstruction that satisfies all of the constraints from all the tables the bureau produces seems impossible. But Mr. Abowd says the problem gets easier when you notice that these tables are full of zeros. Each zero indicates a combination of variables — values for one or more of block, sex, age, race and ethnicity — for which no one exists in the census. We might find, for example, that there is no one below voting age living on a particular block. We can then ignore any reconstructions that include people under 18 living there. This greatly reduces the set of viable reconstructions and makes the problem solvable with off-the-shelf software.

    To combat this, the Census is looking into injecting more uncertainty into their published data. The challenge is figuring out how much uncertainty is too much and what level of privacy is enough.

  • Members Only
    December 6, 2018


    The Process  /  ,

    A couple of famous directors were defending animated films as a medium rather than a genre of film meant for kids. I got to thinking about the parallels to visualization.

  • December 5, 2018

    This interactive heatmap by Jonas Schöley shows mortality rates by age. Just use the dropdown menu to see the data for various countries. You can also compare male and female populations and countries.

    As you might expect, you can see mortality rates decrease steadily, especially in the younger ages. Spikes or abrupt color changes might indicate war or disease. [via @maartenzam]

  • Members Only

    How to Make an Interactive Map of Geographic Paths

    With latitude and longitude coordinates, there are a number of ways to map geographic data using D3.js and Leaflet.

  • December 4, 2018

    Multiple people can look at the same dataset and come out the other end with very different interpretations. [via @SteveStuWill]

  • December 4, 2018


    Data Sharing  /  ,

    Shannon Mattern for The Atlantic on how blockchain might be useful in mapping and as a replacement for GPS:

    Crypto-cartographers hope to use it for spatial verification—confirming that things are where they say they are, when they claim to be there. How might this be useful? Well, you could know precisely when an Amazon delivery drone drops a package on your doorstep, at which point the charge would post to your account. No more unscrupulous delivery drivers, and no more contested charges for packages lost in transit. Or when opening a new bank account, you could virtually confirm your permanent address by physically being there during a particular verification period, rather than providing copies of your utility bills. You could also submit a photo of your flooded basement or smashed windshield to your insurance company, supplementing your claim with time- and location-verified documentation. Or, as you pass by your local family-owned coffee shop, the owner could “airdrop” some Bitcoin coupons to your phone, and you could stop by to cash in before the offer expires a half hour later.

    Oh good.

  • December 3, 2018

    RJ Andrews has a visualization design book coming out in January called Info We Trust. He hand-drew about 300 graphics for the book. One of the reasons:

    I decided very early that Info We Trust would not use any existing images, mine or others. Found examples work fine for certain books. They are also convenient, the work is already done! But found images bring baggage too. You might choose an existing work to highlight one aspect of its design. But the reader will see other facets too.

    I’m intrigued. On the upside, you get a consistent visual flow. A focused point of view. On the downside: the possibility of a view that is too focused. I have a feeling there will be more upside than downside. [Amazon pre-order]