Posts Tagged ‘Visualization’
The human urge to own land sometimes borders on the absurd… Do we have too many cities with too few people in them? (Answer: Yes!) But there’s an implicit question embedded in that notion of anti-NIMBY place-making, once posed by Leo Tolstoy: “How much land does a man need?”
Tolstoy’s answer was pretty grim. But leave it to a YouTuber to take that existential literary question literally by asking, “How much land does humanity need?”
That’s the issue enterprising online video-maker Joseph Pisenti explores on his channel, Real Life Lore.
Pisenti ups the ante on the density game by examining two more specific questions in three videos: How large would a city need to be to fit all of humanity, and how big would a building need to be fit every human being?…
More metropolitan musing– and all three of the videos– at “Could the Human Race Fit in a Single City?”
* Lyric from the song “Don’t Fence Me In”; music by Cole Porter, lyrics by Porter, adapted from a poem by Robert Fletcher. Originally written in 1934 for an unproduced film musical (Adios, Argentina), it was recorded a decade later by Roy Rogers, and (almost simultaneously) Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters; later it was covered by Ella Fitzgerald, and many others.
As we speculate about space, we might spare a thought for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin; he died on this date in 1673. Better known by his stage name, Molière, he was a respected French actor who became one of the great comedic playwrights in Western literature. His worldy farces– The Misanthrope, The School for Wives, Tartuffe, The Miser, The Imaginary Invalid, and The Bourgeois Gentleman.– earned him popular adulation… and the scorn of moralists and the Catholic Church. At the time of his death, French law forbade the burial of actors in the sacred ground of a cemetery. But Molière’s widow, Armande, asked the King if her spouse could be granted a normal funeral at night. The King– a fan– agreed, and Molière’s body was buried in the section of a cemetery reserved for unbaptized infants. (Molière’s remains were later transferred to grand Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, and re-laid to rest near those of La Fontaine.)
“A day will come when there will be no battlefields, but markets opening to commerce and minds opening to ideas”*…
… well, markets opening anyway.
There’s a rule of thumb that to have a healthy diet, you should eat the rainbow—meaning fruits and veggies of all colors. A similar notion could be applied to a country’s economic health. The more diverse the exports, the less susceptible a nation will presumably be to fluctuations in a single market. Too reliant on oil? A drop in prices might spell the loss of billions of dollars. And for a country where heavy machinery comprises most of the exports, that drop in prices might mean lower operating costs and an uptick in sales. And thanks to globalization, the web of trade is very complex and tough to comprehend.
Looking for better ways to unpack this data, Harvard researchers mapped out international exports in an infographic called the Globe of Economic Complexity, an interactive website that visualizes the exports of every country around the world.
Industries like agriculture, medical products, precious metals, cars, and even baked goods are all assigned a specific color. To get more detailed breakdowns, the infographic leads you to an atlas of exports with more detailed breakdowns. The data was collected in 2012 and for that year, the graphic shows the United States as predominantly turquoise (machinery and parts), blue (automotive), and fuchsia (chemicals). Spin the globe and head over to China and nearly half of the exports are machinery related. Saudi Arabia is a beacon of pink for petroleum, accounting for 76% of exports. Clicking on the country names shows who the nation exports to the most.
Changing to different views, like the product space graph, reveals which countries are most heavily involved in the trade of a specific product. Who knew that the United Kingdom accounted for 26% of the antiques trade or that Europe exports the most cigarette papers?
* Victor Hugo
As we note sadly that two countries with McDonald’s franchises have in fact gone to war, we might send charged birthday greetings to Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson; he was born on this date in 1871. An experimental physicist whose work earned him the honorifics “father of nuclear physics” and “father of electronics” (along with a Nobel Prize), he is considered the greatest experimentalist since Michael Faraday, and and was instrumental in laying the foundation for the advances in technology and energy that have enabled the globalization visualized above.
Eleanor Lutz, a designer in Seattle with a Bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from the University of Washington (where her research was in teaching mosquitoes to fly through mazes), has turned her talents to scientific visualization. Her wonderful site, Tabletop Whale, features a weekly animated GIF illustrating both the principles and the beauty of a scientific phenomenon.
Watch them move: more (and larger) animated GIFs at Tabletop Whale.
As we wonder at the working of the world around us, we might recall that it was on this date in 1810 that Crown Prince Ludwig (later to become King Ludwig I) invited the citizens of Munich to help celebrate his marriage to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen with horse races and a feast lubricated liberally by beer. The festivities were held on the fields in front of the city gates, named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s meadow”) in honor of the Crown Princess, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the “Wiesn.” The event was such a success that the Crown Prince decided to repeat it the following year– and so the tradition of Ocktoberfest was born. The current version of celebration begins in late September and runs through the first Sunday in October, and involves the serving of over 1 million gallons of beer.
It’s tempting to consider information visualization a relatively new field that rose in response to the demands of the Internet generation. “But,” argues Manual Lima in The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge, “as with any domain of knowledge, visualizing is built on a prolonged succession of efforts and events.”
While it’s tempting to look at the recent work, it’s critical we understand the long history. Lima’s stunning book helps, covering the fascinating 800-year history of the seemingly simple tree diagram.
Trees are some of the oldest living things in the world. The sequoias in Northern California, for example, can reach a height of nearly 400 feet, with a trunk diameter of 26 feet and live to more than 3,500 years. “These grandiose, mesmerizing lifeforms are a remarkable example of longevity and stability and, ultimately, are the crowning embodiment of the powerful qualities humans have always associated with trees.”
Such an important part of natural life on earth, tree metaphors have become deeply embedded in the English language, as in the “root” of the problem or “branches” of knowledge. In the Renaissance, the philosophers Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes, for example, used tree diagrams to describe dense classification arrangements. As we shall see, trees really became popular as a method of communicating and changing minds with Charles Darwin…
More on the highly-recommended Farnum Street blog.
* Rodney Dangerfield
As we look to our roots, we might recall that it was on this date in 1955 that Capitol Records released what it claimed to be (and what surely was) the shortest “song” ever recorded. Earlier in the year, Les Paul and Mary Ford has released a single, “Magic Melody,” that concluded with the well-known “shave and a hair cut” musical phrase– sans the traditional “two bits” sting. Disc jockeys around the country complained that the track ended too abruptly, that it left the listener hanging. So Les Paul went back into the studio to record “Magic Melody- Part 2”– which consisted solely of the two “missing” notes. It ran for about one second.
The MIT Media Lab’s Pantheon Project aims to restore some of that knowledge…
You were not born with the ability to fly, cure disease or communicate at long distances, but you were born in a society that endows you with these capacities. These capacities are the result of information that has been generated by humans and that humans have been able to embed in tangible and digital objects.
This information is all around you. It is the way in which the atoms in an airplane are arranged or the way in which your cell-phone whispers dance instructions to electromagnetic waves.
Pantheon is a project celebrating the cultural information that endows our species with these fantastic capacities. To celebrate our global cultural heritage we are compiling, analyzing and visualizing datasets that can help us understand the process of global cultural development. Dive in, visualize, and enjoy…
Readers can lose themselves in Pantheon, exploring the relative cultural output of different regions in specific domains, like innovation:
… or the cultural output across all domains of a particular nation:
… even the overall rankings of individual contributors to culture over time:
There are, as Pantheon’s keepers freely acknowledge, biases built into the methodology; they continue to work to overcome them. Still, it is a fascinating– and altogether absorbing– resource. Check out the rankings engine here; the visualization engine here; and these videos, by way of background:
As we consult the league tables, we might recall that it was on this date in 2010 that the overdue fines on two books checked out but never returned by George Washington from the New York Society Library (the city’s only lender of books at the time of Washington’s presidency) reached $300,000.
The library’s ledgers show that Washington took out the books on October 5, 1789, some five months into his presidency at a time when New York was still the capital. They were an essay on international affairs called Law of Nations and the twelfth volume of a 14-volume collection of debates from the English House of Commons.
“We’re not actively pursuing the overdue fines,” the head librarian Mark Bartlett said at the time. “But we would be very happy if we were able to get the books back.”
This is a comparison of probation vs parole rates by state (plus DC). The data used are from 2011. I expected the two variables to be strongly correlated, but they aren’t. Whether this is influenced by state laws, the behavior of the people, the attitudes of judges, or the leniency of parole boards, I don’t know, though I suspect it is a combination of all of them.
For those wondering about the difference between probation and parole, you can read a detailed description here:http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=qa&iid=324. The most fundamental difference is that parole is a supervised release from jail while probation is a sentencing by a judge that requires supervision of the individual.
What I found most amazing about these data is that 4.6% of Georgia’s population is on probation. If you rule out minors from the population pool, more than 1 in 20 adults is on probation there.
* Mark Twain
As we remind ourselves that, America’s astronomical incarceration rates notwithstanding, crime is a universally human phenomenon, we might recall that on this date in 1965, the infamous British gangsters the Kray Twins were charged with demanding money with menaces in the County of London. Starting in the early 1950, Ronald and Reginald Kray used the cover of night club ownership to build a powerful gang, The Firm, that dealt in extortion, hijacking, armed robbery, arson, and murder. The Kray’s, who had become celebrities– friends of the likes of Frank Sinatra and Diana Dors– by the time of their 1965 arrest, beat that rap. But were convicted of a broader array of offenses in 1968, and imprisoned for (what turned out to be) life.
Still, in 1985 officials at Broadmoor Hospital discovered a business card of Ron’s, which prompted an investigation that revealed the twins – incarcerated at separate institutions – along with their older brother, Charlie, and another accomplice who was not in prison, were operating a lucrative bodyguard and “protection” business, Krayleigh Enterprises, for Hollywood stars– including Sinatra.
Ronnie was ultimately certified insane (paranoid schizophrenic) thus his time at Broadmoor, where he died in 1985. Reg was freed on compassionate grounds in 2000, at age 87, with inoperable bladder cancer; he died 8 weeks later.
Readers know that your correspondent is intrigued (OK, to the point of obsessed) with data visualization. Previous missives have featured hero examples (like this one and this one) and compelling collections (like Flowing Data and Information is Beautiful). Readers will also recall that your correspondent has a soft spot for the periodic table (as, for instance, here, here, or of course here)…
Now, from Visual Literacy, a synthesis of the two– “A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods“:
Mouse over any of the “elements” (on the original) to see to an example of the approach in question. Very helpful… and very cool!
Update to the Periodic Table of Typefaces: From Julian Hansen, a (very amusing) flow chart for picking the type style appropriate to any need. And from Typography for Lawyers… well, precisely that (replete with cautionary examples).
As we remind ourselves that our mothers were right, that appearances do matter, we might lay a particularly elegant wreath for Donald Deskey, who died on this date in 1989. An inventor (e.g., the laminate Weldtex) and designer, Deskey championed Art Deco (he designed Radio City Music Hall, for instance) and probably did more than anyone else to make industrial design a profession (he was a founder of the American Society of Industrial Designers and of its predecessor, the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen). His impact survives him; among his lasting designs: the goose-necked street lamp that he designed for New York City…
…and the Crest toothpaste tube, designed for Proctor and Gamble.