Archive for the ‘Weave’ Category

Weave open-source data visualization offers power, flexibility

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Weave open-source data visualization offers power, flexibility by Sharon Machlis.

From the post:

When two Boston-area organizations rolled out an interactive data visualization website last month, it represented one of the largest public uses yet for the open-source project Weave — and more are on the way.

Three years in development so far and still in beta, Weave is designed so government agencies, non-profits and corporate users can offer the public an easy-to-use platform for examining information. Want to see the relationship between low household incomes and student reading scores in eastern Mass.? How housing and transportation costs compare with income? Or maybe how obesity rates have changed over time? Load some data to generate a table, scatter plot and map.

In addition to viewing data, mousing over various entries lets you highlight items on multiple visualizations at once: map, map legend, bar chart and scatter plot, for example. Users can also add visualization elements or change data sets, as well as right-click to look up related information on the Web.

This story about Weave highlights different data sets than the last one I reported. Is this a where there’s smoke there’s fire type situation? That is to say that public access and manipulation of data has the potential to make a real difference?

If so, in what way? Will open access to data result in closure of secret courts? Or secret indictments and evidence? The evidence that has come to light via diplomatic cables, for example, is embarrassing for incompetent or crude individuals. Hardly the stuff of “national security.” (Sorry, don’t know how to embed a drum roll in the page, maybe in HTML5 I can.)

Open-source Weave liberates data for journalists, citizens

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Open-source Weave liberates data for journalists, citizens: The software can help journalists create infinitely interactive visualizations by Andrew Phelps.

From the post:

Data nerds from government and academia gathered Friday at Northeastern University to show off the latest version of Weave, an open-source, web-based platform designed to visualize “any available data by anyone for any purpose.” The software has a lot of potential for journalists.

Weave is supported by the Open Indicators Consortium, an unusual partnership of planning agencies and universities who wanted better tools to inform public policy and community decision-making. The groups organized and agreed to share data and code in 2008, well before Gov 2.0 was hot.

Think of Weave as more programming language than app. It powers websites such as the Connecticut Data Collaborative and Rhode Island’s RI DataHUB. The newly relaunched MetroBoston DataCommon, a project of eastern Massachusetts’ regional planning agency, really shows off the software’s power. There, users can upload their own datasets (Weave claims to be able to handle virtually any format) or browse sample visualizations (e.g., Children in Families Below Poverty).

Data is linked, which means you can view the same datapoint from many angles. Drag your cursor across a few dozen cities and towns and watch as those data are simultaneously illuminated on a histogram and a scatter plot. Add another datapoint to find correlations or trim the data to create subsets. The software keeps track of state, which means you would be able to visually undo and redo changes and save that series of steps as an animation. The end result, powered by Flash, is easily embeddable into a web page.

This is a truly remarkable piece of work!

Having said that, the MetroBoston DataCommon illustrates the limitations of the approach. Follow the link and report back what category you would look under for:

  • Crime statistics by type of crime
  • Crime statistics by arrest/conviction
  • Parolee or sex offenders by district

I tried Public Safety and Demographics, no luck. Maybe they don’t have any crime in Boston. Maybe. That’s the problem with government choosing which data sets to release. Can produce a very odd views of local conditions.

Not the fault of Weave but thought I should mention that “released data” != accurate picture.