The Scale of the Universe 2

January 12th, 2014

The Scale of the Universe 2. Best viewed in full screen mode.

[Via Astronomy Picture of the Day]

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Visualising Morphology

December 11th, 2013

I wish the creators of Visualizing Buffy and Rocky Morphology could combine forces to bring us a Buffy Morphology.

[Visualizing Buffy via Extenuating Circumstances, Rocky Morphology via Flowing Data]

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Data does not include domestic crying…

December 2nd, 2013

Quantified Breakup applies a little data analysis to the aftermath of the end of a relationship. Like these infographics about the Public Display of Emotions:

Every day we function within parameters. We do our jobs. We do our chores. We chit chat with the person who sells us groceries. We function very admirably.

But when something disruptive happens in our lives – a breakup or maybe even a serious family emergency – we sometimes can't help but let it all out. And I don't just mean at home. Sometimes, you kinda have to stop functioning and ball your eyes out in public. […]

Commiserations with other people about breakups seemed to reveal that I was not alone in expressing emotions like this! I've had women shrieking with joy as they told me about the therapeutic effects of crying publicly.

Here's a quick breakdown of public crying I recall from emails, texts and conversations (I started jotting down data for this in mid-October. Data does not include domestic crying):

Public Displays of Emotion

Even as we read this, a software developer somewhere who has seen that post is working on a project called BreakupBuddy,1 an app designed to pull all this data together in a single place. Grabbing your location and the details of what you're listening to is the easy bit: the trickier part is providing a slick but flexible user interface so you can tag parts of the day according to your mood and behaviour. An in-app purchase buys the GetHappy module, which reacts to your mood changes by suggesting a cheery soundtrack, accompanied by pictures from your photostream of happier times. (If the facial recognition/tagging allows it to identify and avoid pictures of That Cheating Bastard, so much the better!) And of course, every status update gets posted to the social network of your choice, because like the lady said, public displays of emotion can be cathartic.23

[Via Flowing Data]

  1. Yes, the name needs a bit of work.
  2. I have a horrible feeling that if I searched the App Store there are probably three apps already there that aim to fill this need.
  3. OK, I couldn't resist: a quick search found this and this, neither of which quite seems to fit the bill. Perhaps there's a genuine gap in the market here.

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WTF Visualizations

August 31st, 2013

WTF Visualizations collects examples of the terrible things people do with infographics.

My favourites are the many ways to abuse the humble pie chart. Like this:

Slices of pie?

… and this:


… and this:

Stacked pie slices

If you have no particular affection for the poor old pie chart, rest assured you'll find horrific things being done to your favourite graph type too.1

[Via Flowing Data]

  1. What do you mean you don't have a favourite type of graph? Next you'll be telling me you haven't spent hours tweaking Excel's options until it deigns to produce a PivotChart that's halfway usable.

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The 39 stats

August 13th, 2013

The 39 stats:

Had he survived his three-steaks-a-sitting diet Alfred Hitchcock would have been all of 114 on 13 August. To celebrate, we're charting the great director's films in numbers – from character deaths to longest journeys – and finally answer the question: which is the most Hitchcockian Hitchcock of all?

The 39 Stats

Interesting to see that the biggest-selling Hitchcock on DVD was North by Northwest, which comes out on top and by some margin over the next best seller, The 39 Steps. I'd have assumed that Vertigo, Rear Window and Psycho would have been right up there. In fact, the raw data shows that there's a fairly steep drop-off in DVD sales after those two and third-placed Psycho.1

[Via MetaFilter]

  1. Of course, it may just be that some of those films had better DVD editions than others. Come to that, do these figures include sales as part of a themed collection of, say, Cary Grant or James Stewart's films. More research required.

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Thank the Academy

March 21st, 2013

Thank the Academy: A visualization of how Oscar winners express gratitude.

Thanked at length...

I have to be honest: that's one of the more straightforward charts on the site. The interactive charts that really let you slice and dice the data are where the action is, but they can't be properly represented by a dinky screenshot over here.

You really should go and have a play for yourself. You can view the differences in the content of speeches and even the behaviour of the recipient, then view the differences between eras, or between different classes of award winner. It's a very well done site.

I'd love to see someone apply these same techniques and style of presentation to another corpus taken from an annual event with a bit of a history to it. Say, Budget speeches by Chancellors of the Exchequer over the last 50 years, or party leaders' speeches to their party conference. Granted, you couldn't do much with an analysis by gender of either of those data sets – what with any analysis by gender of the relevant UK data sets having Margaret Thatcher on one side of the stats and generation after generation of middle aged men on the other – but there would be all sorts of illuminating ways to break the data down.

One think I can confidently predict: those sorts of data sets would provide fewer opportunities to tally the number of speakers who burst into tears during their speech. Also, some poor devil would have to sit through recordings of each speech taking detailed notes, and I'm pretty sure that'd be a lot less entertaining – a lot less glamorous, certainly – than watching 50 years of excerpts from the Oscars.

Getting back to the more glamorous data set, the site will even tell you who has been thanked by name most frequently in acceptance speeches by directors, leading and supporting actors and actresses.1

[Via Flowing Data]

  1. I'll give you a clue. He's still active in the industry today. As is his brother.

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December 28th, 2012

OrgOrgChart is a graphical representation of four years in the life of Autodesk Inc.: how it shed and gained staff, and how it reorganised itself as it acquired new companies and moved staff from one manager to another. It's hypnotic stuff:

At first glance, that looks like a company spending four years doing little but reorganising itself. I would imagine that if you dug into the details of the individuals involved, you'd see that quite a lot of the changes lighting up parts of the graph are a result of an individual manager moving on and another manager coming in to fill the same post – not really changes in the organisational structure, so much as changes in who is running a particular team or department. At least I hope so.

It's be interesting to see a version of the animation that reflected only changes in the responsibilities assigned a particular role, so as to reveal just how much time the management were spending redrafting their org charts rather than just writing in new names here or there as individuals progressed from one job to the next.1

[Via Flowing Data]

  1. Of course, it could also be that as one of those parasitic, feather-bedded, overpaid public servants with a gold-plated pension that you hear so much about I just don't understand how dynamic the real world of business is.

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50 years on the road

December 6th, 2012

Visualizing 50 years of The Rolling Stones on tour.

It's hard to imagine anyone matching the scale and longevity of their career as a live act.1 Is Jay-Z still going to be embarking on massive world tours 30 years from now? Will Muse? Take That? Metallica? The Pet Shop Boys?

[Via Flowing Data]

  1. I don't doubt all sorts of rock, pop and rap musicians will still be making music in their 70s, but they'll probably not touring on the scale of the Stones' recent tours.

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July 8th, 2012

The world's biggest corporate fines, visualised in proportion to each company's annual income.

Really puts the Barclays LIBOR-fixing fine into perspective.

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Visualizing iOS Text Editors

April 22nd, 2012

The other day, Kieran Healy had a bright idea:

The other day Brett Terpstra posted a gigantic and quite beautifully-executed feature comparison of all of the text editors available for iOS devices. The table is really terrific and also a bit overwhelming, as there's so much data. On the bus home yesterday, it struck me that it might make for a nice data visualization exercise. […]

He was right. Good work.

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Population Density

April 17th, 2012

This interactive map of Population Density presents a very different perspective on the world.

It's not surprising that as you ratchet up the population density filter Australia disappears from view early on, but it's pretty amazing to see how long Greater London stays on the map, and that it survives longer than any part of the United States. As always, knowing that London is a densely populated city is a very different thing from being able to see how few parts of the world are populated on that scale.

[Via Flowing Data]

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Twitterquake visualised

February 16th, 2012

This visualization of how Twitter users reacted to Japan's 2011 earthquake acts as a small-scale companion piece to the visualisation of a year's worth of earthquakes I posted the other week.

[Via currybetdotnet]

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World earthquakes 2011 Visualisation map

February 6th, 2012

It's one thing to be intellectually aware of the fact that there are thousands of medium-to-large magnitude earthquakes around the world each year, quite another to see their frequency, magnitude and location plotted in animated form, in great detail. It brings home just how fortunate I am to be living on a small, geologically stable island nation off the coast of the continent of Europe.

[Via Chocolate and Vodka]

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What a long, strange journey

July 18th, 2011

A Doctor Who Tube Map. And why not?

[Via currybetdotnet]

1 Comment »

See something or say something

July 12th, 2011

See something or say something plots maps of major cities, showing locations from which people tweeted and locations where they posted photographs to Flickr.

Unfortunately I don't know any of the cities well enough to positively identify the locations revealed by the pictures, but a quick look at Google Maps seems to confirm that1 many of the concentrations of red dots in London mark the locations of the various royal or public parks.

I wonder what such a map would look like for Newcastle. I can guess where most of the photos would be taken (i.e. on and around the Quayside), but where would all the tweeters be hanging out?

[Via Flowing Data]

  1. As you'd expect.

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Languages of the World (Wide Web)

July 9th, 2011

Google's Daniel Ford and Josh Batson have been mapping the languages of the World (Wide Web):

Most web pages link to other pages on the same web site, and the few off-site links they have are almost always to other pages in the same language. It's as if each language has its own web which is loosely linked to the webs of other languages. However, there are a small but significant number of off-site links between languages. These give tantalizing hints of the world beyond the virtual. […]

[Via MetaFilter]

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Lyric clouds

June 23rd, 2011

Andrew Clegg of has been doing some data mining, armed only with with a database of lyrics and the contents of of's catalogue:

One of the interesting things that sets even superficially similar genres of music apart is their lyrical content. tags can overlap to a great degree, but we were interested to see what the words can tell you about the subtler shades of meaning that go along with those tags. As usual around here, the best way to answer questions like these is by asking the data. […]

The resulting word clouds (plus a bonus 2D chart plotting the degree of similarity between lyric choices in different genres) are fascinating.

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Definitive Daft Punk visualised

May 15th, 2011

Anatomy of a Mashup.

[Via Girl Walk // All Day]

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Vertiginous numbers

May 10th, 2011

Movie budgets, over time. That's one hell of a jump.

It'd be interesting to see how the share of the median budget figure devoted to salaries, production costs, marketing and so on has changed over time. Even more so if we could see how median profitability had changed over the same period; that one's tricky for all sorts of reasons, but without it you can't tell whether the cost inflation has been 'worthwhile.'1

Whether the quality of films has increased that steeply is … difficult to quantify, but not hard to guess.

  1. You also have to factor in the way that some of the extra costs can be recouped by the DVD/BluRay/online release in a way that wasn't possible back in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Not as bad as it looks

April 15th, 2011

I don't think this chart of the median Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer Score for the ten highest grossing films each year since 1950 tells quite the story it appears to.

On the face of it, there was a step change downwards in the early 1980s, then a further decline set in from the mid-1990s. The message is clear: successful films, on average, are worse nowadays than they have been in fifty years.

The thing is, Rotten Tomatoes only started in 1999, so the reviews it counts of films released significantly earlier than that are necessarily going to be retrospectives, frequently prompted by a DVD release or a director's cut or whatever. Take the reviews of A Hard Day's Night, which was released in 1964. The earliest of them are from January 2000 and appear to have been prompted by the release of a cleaned-up print of the film or a DVD release. Realistically, professional publications aren't likely to pay a reviewer to write a new review of a rerelease of a middling piece of work from forty years ago. If they write about a rerelease at all, it'll be because the film is memorable in some way – an acknowledged 'classic', or perhaps a key film from early in the career of a big name actor or writer or director. This can't help but skew the average rating for older films upwards.

By contrast, when a contemporary film is released the site will be able to sample a full range of reviews, with raves and pans and everything between. This will surely depress the average score quite a bit.

I'm not saying that there aren't terrible films that do well at the box office nowadays: I'm just saying that relying on a skewed sample of reviews doesn't prove it.

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