Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Call for participation

My fellow reader,
This is just a friendly reminder to encourage you to give me feedback, insights, opinions and suggestions of topics, projects and subjects!
Fell free to speak you mind!

Original photo by Cayusa


Ruben's Tube - Visualization is on fire!

In the era of, and even metacafetube, here is one you never thought could get there... A classic physics experience, Ruben's tube consists of a mix of simple materials, all of which you can find at home (though I don't think you should attempt any of this, specially if you're not a certified fireman). Take a PVC pipe, cover it in foil so that it doesn't melt from the fire, drill as many holes as you can (as long as they're at least .5 cm apart) on top of it. Seal both ends and attach one of them to a speaker and the other to any flammable gas you might have access to. There it is, now you can visualize Beethoven's 9th! Take a look at both videos. In the 1st one you can really see some experimenting with different sounds and even Jazz and Rock! The second one, definitely mithbustery, is more informative and though they don't really experiment with any unsteady waves, the explanations of the phenomena are very rich, simple and direct.

Keep children away from this!

For more, be sure to check out Infernoptix, these guys really take the tube to a whole new level!

Seen on Infosthetics


Tuesday, January 27, 2009


In my morning readings, I've stumbled across a couple of visualization sketches from Grid/Plane in collaboration Instrum3nt for Google.
No big news there, except for a keen sense of design. I specially love the Map (title) and the columns (below). The map not only shows data beautifully, it also matches the data with a label on the bottom. I imagine panning, zooming, clicking, searching and intricate tooltips are a given in this sketch and if not, I'd like to think it wouldn't take long before they notice the need for it for better understanding the information and further gatherings.

As for these wonderful columns, I can almost see them moving and the animated tooltip formed labels dancing around. I do notice the lack of axis (and therefore the information you'd expect from them such as data type, name, origin and unit), but think about the selection opportunities if those boxes in each columns actually map a more detail level of information. By double clicking them, they could fall apart, forming new columns for the more detailed level while a zooming effect shows the user a close up the the selected data (Many Eyes' Block Chart example - play with the combo to get the idea).
These are only drawing, sketches, ideas... They don't actually map Google searches, but imagine when they do! For me, this will bring the word "googling" a whole new meaning.
By the way, when was the last time that a neologism widely accepted globally had it's meaning changed or even got a new meaning to it? this comes to prove once again that creativity is keen to success!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Very interesting post by Ben Fry

OSM 2008: A Year of Edits from ItoWorld on Vimeo.
This is a copy of Ben Fry's post today on OpenStreetMap.

A video depicting all the edits for the OpenStreetMap project for 2008.

OpenStreetMap is a wiki-style map of the world and this animation displays a white flash each time a way is entered or updated. Some edits are a result of a physical local survey by a contributor with a GPS unit and taking notes, other edits are done remotely using aerial photography or out-of-copyright maps, and some are bulk imports of official data.

Simple idea but really elegant execution. Created by ITO.

Mapping over time - Ben Fry

This very interesting video has been widely covered over the last few days, but this simple take on it by Ben Fry was, I thought, the most objective one. That's why I choose not to post something of my own, instead, I preferred to borrow his words. Please, do check the original post as well.


Addition to yesterday post

Yesterday, CNN posted a series of photos from the inauguration moment using Microsoft's Photosynth, "born of a collaboration between Microsoft and the University of Washington, based on the groundbreaking research of Noah Snavely (UW), Steve Seitz (UW),and Richard Szeliski (Microsoft Research)"1. The idea is that you can use a good number of 2D photographs to create a 3D environment of the moment. CNN posted 761 photographs in 3 separate groups allowing the user to navigate through various positions and points of view of the president taking his oath.
This way, you can see the moment from the first row or even right behind the president. You can navigate easily and intuitively through the photographs and have a close feeling of what that moment was like or, if you prefer, watch a slide show.
Definitely, a great display of the tools power and versatility.
Check out this other examples of what could be done with Photosynth.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009


By now, virtually every single blog in the world wide web has an analysis on president Obama's inaugural address posted on their cover. I wish I could be different, but it's kind of a hard thing to do when such an important event comes to pass. There are very few things republicans and democrats agree 100% on, but that the next few years are crucial to the United States continuation as the number 1 political power on the world is a given. Well, along with the rest of the so called "Americans" and despite their supreme self-centered way of thinking, here is one Brazilian who is hoping the next 4 years are remarkably successful for president Obama. Having that said, I thought I'd take this opportunity to post all the most interesting things I've seen on the various blogs, newspaper websites and whatnot in one big post. Brace yourselves, this is a whole lot of reading ahead... I hope you enjoy it as much as me.

The projects will not be posted in any particular order, not chronological, not preferential, neither any other category that might suggest any connection among them, so please, do read 'em all so that you don't miss anything.

I'll start up with one of the records of posting, Obama's portrait as a tag cloud.

This project by Jeff Clark @ Neoformix, was inspired by an image by Gui Borchet. As a result, Jeff tweaked a few of his previews codes for Word Hearts and Clustered Words (which was Jeff's first attempt to build something similar to Jonathan Feinberg's widely praised and in my opinion, the very best interpretation of the well known tag cloud ever made, Wordle - also available on Many Eyes), making his code able to color and size words to fit a pre-existing image. There is virtually very little information data analysis or information the user is able to retrieve from it, but it is on heck of an image. This is visualization art in it's purest form. Cuddles for Jeff!
Here is president Obama's inaugural address' generated image:

Click here for original B&W portrait and here for original Inaugural Address image.

Here is Dopplr's visualization on 2008 Personal annual report for Barack Obama

As you can see, the man almost made it to the moon in 2008 (92% of the distance was covered) and spent almost twice as much time on the road then at home. Certainly showing commitment to his campaign. You can also see that Joe was with him most of the time and that John McCain was also present (even more than his wife Michelle - which reminds me of Chris Rocks' jokes on "Kill the messenger", very funny!) but McCain's VP Sarah, well, just not that much...
As a counterpoint, for someone who praises Gore's environmental issues that much, his carbon footprint was equal to more than 4 Hummers. OK, for that much traveling, and keeping in mind that airplanes do pollute a lot more than any other thing in this world, I guess it was not that much in perspective to the benefits his election might bring to our world in that subject. By the way, just for kicks, here is what Lauren Kurtz has to say to Mr. President Barack: you gotta go to "The Publican. Amazing beer list and melt in your mouth food". I guess now he is elect, a couple cold ones wouldn't be that bad!
You can download Dopplr's original PDF here.

I continue with one of the most interesting data correlation for the past year election, which I saw on Flowing Data.

This post election analysis shows the correlation between cotton picking and voting. The relation is amazingly synchronized. As Strange Maps does point out, this doesn't mean that by increasing the cotton plantations on other parts of the country would increase the number of democrats, but it does show that due to heavy migration of African Americans to those regions caused by the cotton industry, those counties had a significant majority of voters for Obama (91% of the African Americans population voted for Obama). This is a great correlation - not causation - example and a very interesting read.

This next piece, by OPEN N.Y., shows the correlation between height and weight in the presidency history dating back to 1896.

In this graph, it's clear that the seemingly more robust body has had an edge on presidential elections since the 25th president. Makes sense, since the people would rather have a leader they find fit. Yes, I know, fat is not fit! But remember that not that many years back, this fitness race of our time was not present and fatness did actually mean wealthier and healthier - which are strong qualities for someone we expect to run our country for the next years. Barack's win only confirmed this pattern, beating McCain's short and curved, Ephialtes-like figure.

You can find the original article here.

Next is Washington Post's post on tax proposals for both candidates.

As you can easily see, the main difference is that Obama's proposal was to increase the taxes by 5% of all those filthy rich multi-millionaire people we all love to hate and to wish were us while decreasing taxes for the bottom end of the financial pyramid while McCain's proposal was to lower taxes for everybody! Borrowing Phoebe's half brother Frank line on Friends: "No no no, this is a new plan! Three kids and no money!!!". Not quite getting what I meant? look at the bottom line: Obama's proposal equals virtually no change on the final tax amount while better organizing tax expense for the population. McCain's proposal equals more than a thousand dollars average in tax income while continuing to favor those in the big chairs! Not a mystery why Obama won the election. The least favored group by McCain's proposal meant 60% of votes, I mean, at least check your numbers Mr. McCain!

And for the Pièce de résistance, among so many others, here is Many Eyes' tag cloud of the inaugural address:

If you can't see this visualization, click here to see the original)
As you can see in this two-word tag cloud, this is indeed a new age, designed to be filled with the care for health, economy and hard work, with the lack of war and fights (hopefully!). It could not have come too soon! Let the new times begin!
Good luck Mr. President. Know that our hearts and minds are with you and we are more ready work hard and be lead back to the right side of things!

Let the good times roll!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Backwards visualization (as an art form)

Wikipedia defines visualization as "any technique for creating images, diagrams, or animations to communicate a message". Usually, it's main goal is to make information clearer in a broad view. Though, Chris Jordan - known photographer - uses the concept backwards to prove a point, as a form of art.
Chris' work depicts the usual America (meaning U.S.) mentality, which seems to grieve for some disasters (Chris mentioned 9/11th as an example in his talk on TED back in June), but misses actual daily massive disasters (he also mentioned the 1100 deaths due to nicotine usage daily as an example).
He takes random expressive statistics about common habits simulates the usual view of the population on it by showing massive numbers of objects mashed together to form an image. When the viewer drills down to the picture detail, the actual object, subject of the piece, shows itself.
His main pieces can be found on his website (Chris Jordan Photographic Arts). The most impressive to me are the Oil Barrels, which shows 28.000 42-gallon barrels, the amount of oiled consumed in the U.S. every minute, Plastic Cups, portraying 1 million plastic cups - the amount of cups used on airline flights in 6 hours everyday in the U.S. (none of which are reused or recycled in any way) -, and the Cell Phones, which consists of 426.000 cell phones - the number of cell phones retired in the U.S. everyday.

You can enjoy Chris' talk on TED.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chart Chooser

Recently, I read a post on Flowing Data about this Char Chooser "flow chart", which helps the user choosing the appropriate chart to represent their data. As a visualization enthusiast, I find the chart extremely limited and not much of a flow chart, but more of a category definition for charts according to data type or intention.
It serves it's purpose, nothing more, nothing less.

Then again, if you're not a visualization enthusiast or a visualization developer, this might help you get to the most appropriate chart to convey your ideas. No harm in taking a look there...

PS: Maps are lacking, and they've been more and more important as charts throughout history...


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ford turns to visualization for new dashboard

In these crisis times currently scaring the market and with all the automakers craving the bailout for survival, Ford turns to visualization to boost sales with their new heavy info dashboard.
The new dashboards are projected to fit perfectly with greener cars. The goal is to change the way people drive. Using a "leafy" theme, the driver can visualize the impact their driving is making on the environment. For instance, when the driver aggressively accelerates or breaks, the vine withers and leaves disappear. Don't worry, as the driver gets back to driving economically, the withers and leaves grow back. The new dashboard should be standard in all Fusion Hybrids (starting at $27k).
The company hopes to make a strong statement with green-driven consumers, creating a state of loyalty with those concerned with the environment. Although Ford has been making strong attempts to tackle this market, they're still to post the sells on hybrid vehicles that can compete with the green-market emperor Toyota (over 1 million Priuses sold).
The dashboard was developed in collaboration with Smart Design, also responsible for the new Johnson & Johnson operating gowns and "reach wondergrip", MS Windows Packaging, HPs photoprinters, DashExpress GPS and Starbucks Hear Music Media Bar.

Seen on Flowing Data. Tracked back to Business Week.