In the spring of 2011 I contacted the city of Luxembourg regarding obtaining data on their city bike share system, named vel’oh!, in order to use the data with the students I taught GIS to in the fall of 2011. Unfortunately no students showed interest in the data. I however dove into the data and did all sorts of spatial analysis and determined trends, statistics and visualizations to better understand the data. I was really only scratched the surface. With over 70 bike stations in the city, each one provides large possibilities for analysis. With my supervisor we met with the data donor from the city and presented our findings. During this meeting he asked me whether I thought certain stations required more bike locks/docks. Typically a station has 15-30 bike docks. The data I had could not address this question but I knew how to find the data in order to answer the question.
I have spoken about inappropriately sized symbols in the past before. While generating some of the graphics for those articles I realized that it would be quite easy to generate the symbols automatically based on their values rather than trying to size them manually within the graphics editor. This could prevent myself as well as others inadvertent editing mistakes as well as methodological ones where people simply do not consider the correct representation of symbols.
Check out the resulting Cartographic symbol generator page for more details.
Infographics serve to simplify the communication of complexity by showing shapes, relationships, metaphors, hues, flows and symbols to represent values. A visually clean and attractive layout is common. We are more quickly able to compare visual values such as areas than numbers. Numbers and words require a more steps: deciphering (reading), translating to meaning and finally absorption. Visual symbols are directly absorbed.
Last year I purchased the book Information is Beautiful (IiB) by David McCandless. Its premise made me add it to my virtual shopping cart instantly. The book is strictly infographics about all sorts of serious, curious and funny topics. I was rather disappointed when reading it and discovered many incomplete pages. I became frustrated with the book and glossed over it a little quickly after that, admiring more the designs than the actual data. McCandless calls it a “freak printing error” but I wonder if it wasn’t partially from the last minute rush. I’ve watched his TED talk and I feel he may be a bit full of himself.
Infographics can fail at many stages. There can be an error in the research as in McCandless’ vitamin supplements graphic. These require you to know well the data to detect errors. There are also representational errors where the values researched are not represented correctly relative to other values. These are easier to detect if the author/artist also displays the values that the graphics are trying to represent. I browsed through IiB a few months back and looked at the data theft infographic. I quickly saw many representation and design errors. I admire his listed source materials / bibliography but I do not think he took to heart Tufte’s lessons.
A day has 24 hours in it. That’s 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. If you wonder why Americans don’t understand the need for using the metric system then ask yourself why you use this inconsistent time measurement system.
What if we could design a better time system that is easier to read and convert between units? Would it still have the same number of hours, minutes or seconds in a day?
I don’t use credit cards as means of delaying payment over a longer period of time. I like their ease and simplicity. Swipe and go. I pay no fees. Life is simple. Of course when it’s time to view my credit card statements online it’s a big pain visualize my recent transaction history. Perhaps this is simply with my bank but it seems they want to make it as hard as possible or simply don’t care about user experience. If I want to view past transactions my only option is to download a PDF for each month. If I make a partial payment of my credit card balance owing, the system will only ever show me the total and never update to what remains. Only when the payment due date passes will it update and tack on interest and the remaining balance. I decided to create an interactive mock-up of what could be done to provide a more informative and usable experience when trying to understand the situation of your credit card debts.
I have been pondering for some time what the result of displaying bar charts of latitude and longitude population distributions for countries would look like. A co-worker shared a site with city populations for the whole world. I finally managed to get around to creating a mashup of Google Charts and Maps.
I don’t read magazines. I enjoy the Weekly Guardian newspaper and surf many websites for news. In reading the American ‘bon appétit’ cooking magazine that Julia gifted me for Christmas I have rediscovered that magazines have too much advertisement. Not only are there many explicit ads, there are ads masquerading as columns, and then there are the insidious ads where the magazine is blatantly pushing brand name items in their columns.
I decided to sit down and count how many and what types of adds occur and determine the distribution of content across the span of the magazine. After analyzing the magazine I decided to poke a little fun at the amazing amount of advertising in bon appétit by creating an info graphic.
While Google provides analytical tools such as Google trends, it is possible to make deductions from the number of hits a search gets. Things people are more interested in will have more results. For some reason I began thinking about using Google hits to see if people have greater pain on their left or right body part. I opened a spreadsheet and began doing Google searches for ‘my [left/right] [body part] hurts’ for many body parts.