Archive for the ‘Graphics’ Category

D3 in Depth – Update

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

D3 in Depth by Peter Cook

Peter has added three more chapters since my last visit:

There are another eight (8) to go.

I don’t know about you or Peter, but when people are showing interest in my work, I tend to work more diligently on it.

Drop by, ask questions, make suggestions.


Interactive Color Wheel

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Interactive Color Wheel


You will need to visit this interactive color wheel to really appreciate its capabilities.

What I find most helpful is the display of hex codes for the colors. I can distinguish colors but getting the codes right can be a real challenge.


2017/18 – When you can’t believe your eyes

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Artificial intelligence is going to make it easier than ever to fake images and video by James Vincent.

From the post:

Smile Vector is a Twitter bot that can make any celebrity smile. It scrapes the web for pictures of faces, and then it morphs their expressions using a deep-learning-powered neural network. Its results aren’t perfect, but they’re created completely automatically, and it’s just a small hint of what’s to come as artificial intelligence opens a new world of image, audio, and video fakery. Imagine a version of Photoshop that can edit an image as easily as you can edit a Word document — will we ever trust our own eyes again?

“I definitely think that this will be a quantum step forward,” Tom White, the creator of Smile Vector, tells The Verge. “Not only in our ability to manipulate images but really their prevalence in our society.” White says he created his bot in order to be “provocative,” and to show people what’s happening with AI in this space. “I don’t think many people outside the machine learning community knew this was even possible,” says White, a lecturer in creative coding at Victoria University School of design. “You can imagine an Instagram-like filter that just says ‘more smile’ or ‘less smile,’ and suddenly that’s in everyone’s pocket and everyone can use it.”

Vincent reviews a number of exciting advances this year and concludes:

AI researchers involved in this fields are already getting a firsthand experience of the coming media environment. “I currently exist in a world of reality vertigo,” says Clune. “People send me real images and I start to wonder if they look fake. And when they send me fake images I assume they’re real because the quality is so good. Increasingly, I think, we won’t know the difference between the real and the fake. It’s up to people to try and educate themselves.”

An image sent to you may appear to be very convincing, but like the general in War Games, you have to ask does it make any sense?

Verification, subject identity in my terminology, requires more than an image. What do we know about the area? Or the people (if any) in the image? Where were they supposed to be today? And many other questions that depend upon the image and its contents.

Unless you are using a subject-identity based technology, where are you going to store that additional information? Or express your concerns about authenticity?

Low fat computing

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Low fat computing by Karsten Schmidt

A summary of the presentation by Schmidt by Malcolm Sparks, along with the presentation itself.

Lots of strange and 3-D printable eye candy for the first 15 minutes or so with Schmidt’s background. Starts to really rock around 20 minutes in with Forth code and very low level coding.

To get a better idea of what Schmidt has been doing, see his website:, or his Forth repl in Javascript,, or his GitHub repository or at: Github:

Stop by at although the material there looks dated.

Poor Presentation – Failure to Communicate

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

If you ask about the age of city, do you expect to be told it founding date or its age?

If you said founding date, you will be as confused as I was by:


You can see the map in its full confusion.

The age of Aubsburg is indeed 2013, but 15 BCE (on orders of the Emperor Augustus) established the same fact with less effort on the part of the reader.

Making users work for information is always a poor communication strategy. Always.

Resources to Find the Data You Need, 2016 Edition

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Resources to Find the Data You Need, 2016 Edition by Nathan Yau.

From the post:

Before you get started on any data-related project, you need data. I know. It sounds crazy, but it’s the truth. It can be frustrating to sleuth for the data you need, so here are some tips on finding it (the openly available variety) and some topic-specific resources to begin your travels.

This is an update to the guide I wrote in 2009, which as it turns out, is now mostly outdated. So, 2016. Here we go.

If you know Nathan Yau’s work, FlowingData, then you know this is “the” starting list for data.


Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 2

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 2: W3C Candidate Recommendation 15 September 2016


This specification defines the features and syntax for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) Version 2. SVG is a language based on XML for describing two-dimensional vector and mixed vector/raster graphics. SVG content is stylable, scalable to different display resolutions, and can be viewed stand-alone, mixed with HTML content, or embedded using XML namespaces within other XML languages. SVG also supports dynamic changes; script can be used to create interactive documents, and animations can be performed using declarative animation features or by using script.


Comments on this Candidate Recommendation are welcome. Comments can be sent to, the public email list for issues related to vector graphics on the Web. This list is archived and senders must agree to have their message publicly archived from their first posting. To subscribe send an email to with the word subscribe in the subject line.

W3C publishes a Candidate Recommendation to indicate that the document is believed to be stable and to encourage implementation by the developer community. This Candidate Recommendation is expected to advance to Proposed Recommendation no earlier than 15 July 2017, but we encourage early review, and requests for normative changes after 15 November 2016 may be deferred to SVG 3.

15 November 2016 will be here sooner than you realize. Read and comment early and often.


How Mapmakers Make Mountains Rise Off the Page

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

How Mapmakers Make Mountains Rise Off the Page by Greg Miller.

From the post:

The world’s most beautiful places are rarely flat. From the soaring peaks of the Himalaya to the vast chasm of the Grand Canyon, many of the most stunning sites on Earth extend in all three dimensions. This poses a problem for mapmakers, who typically only have two dimensions to work with.

Fortunately, cartographers have some clever techniques for creating the illusion of depth, many of them developed by trial and error in the days before computers. The best examples of this work use a combination of art and science to evoke a sense of standing on a mountain peak or looking out an airplane window.

One of the oldest surviving maps, scratched onto an earthenware plate in Mesopotamia more than 4,000 years ago, depicts mountains as a series of little domes. It’s an effective symbol, still used today in schoolchildren’s drawings and a smartphone emoji, but it’s hardly an accurate representation of terrain. Over the subsequent centuries, mapmakers made mostly subtle improvements, varying the size and shape of their mountains, for example, to indicate that some were bigger than others.

But cartography became much more sophisticated during the Renaissance. Topographic surveys were done for the first time with compasses, measuring chains, and other instruments, resulting in accurate measurements of height. And mapmakers developed new methods for depicting terrain. One method, called hachuring, used lines to indicate the direction and steepness of a slope. You can see a later example of this in the 1807 map below of the Mexican volcano Pico de Orizaba. Cartographers today refer (somewhat dismissively) to mountains depicted this way as “woolly caterpillars.”

Stunning illusions of depth on maps, creating depth illusions in 2 dimensions (think computer monitors), history of map making techniques, are all reasons to read this post.

What seals it for me is that the quest for the “best” depth illusion continues. It’s not a “solved” problem. (No spoiler, see the post.)

Physical topography to one side, how are you going to bring “depth” to your topic map?

Some resources in a topic map may have great depth and others, unfortunately, may be like Wikipedia articles marked as:

This article has multiple issues.

How do you define and then enable navigation of your topic maps?

D3 in Depth

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

D3 in Depth by Peter Cook.

From the introduction:

D3 is an open source JavaScript library for:

  • data-driven manipulation of the Document Object Model (DOM)
  • working with data and shapes
  • laying out visual elements for linear, hierarchical, network and geographic data
  • enabling smooth transitions between user interface (UI) states
  • enabling effective user interaction

Let’s unpick these one by one.

Peter forgets to mention, there will be illustrations:


Same data as a packed circle:


Same data as a treemap:


The first two chapters are up and I’m waiting for more!


PS: Follow Peter at: @animateddata.

The Ethics of Data Analytics

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

The Ethics of Data Analytics by Kaiser Fung.

Twenty-one slides on ethics by Kaiser Fung, author of: Junk Charts (data visualization blog), and Big Data, Plainly Spoken (comments on media use of statistics).

Fung challenges you to reach your own ethical decisions and acknowledges there are a number of guides to such decision making.

Unfortunately, Fung does not include professional responsibility requirements, such as the now out-dated Canon 7 of the ABA Model Code Of Professional Responsibility:

A Lawyer Should Represent a Client Zealously Within the Bounds of the Law

That canon has a much storied history, which is capably summarized in Whatever Happened To ‘Zealous Advocacy’? by Paul C. Sanders.

In what became known as Queen Caroline’s Case, the House of Lords sought to dissolve the marriage of King George the IV

George IV 1821 color

to Queen Caroline


on the grounds of her adultery. Effectively removing her as queen of England.

Queen Caroline was represented by Lord Brougham, who had evidence of a secret prior marriage by King George the IV to Catholic (which was illegal), Mrs Fitzherbert.

Portrait of Mrs Maria Fitzherbert, wife of George IV

Brougham’s speech is worth your reading in full but the portion most often cited for zealous defense reads as follows:

I once before took leave to remind your lordships — which was unnecessary, but there are many whom it may be needful to remind — that an advocate, by the sacred duty of his connection with his client, knows, in the discharge of that office, but one person in the world, that client and none other. To save that client by all expedient means — to protect that client at all hazards and costs to all others, and among others to himself — is the highest and most unquestioned of his duties; and he must not regard the alarm, the suffering, the torment, the destruction, which he may bring upon any other; nay, separating even the duties of a patriot from those of an advocate, he must go on reckless of the consequences, if his fate it should unhappily be, to involve his country in confusion for his client.

The name Mrs. Fitzherbert never slips Lord Brougham’s lips but the House of Lords has been warned that may not remain to be the case, should it choose to proceed. The House of Lords did grant the divorce but didn’t enforce it. Saving fact one supposes. Queen Caroline died less than a month after the coronation of George IV.

For data analysis, cybersecurity, or any of the other topics I touch on in this blog, I take the last line of Lord Brougham’s speech:

To save that client by all expedient means — to protect that client at all hazards and costs to all others, and among others to himself — is the highest and most unquestioned of his duties; and he must not regard the alarm, the suffering, the torment, the destruction, which he may bring upon any other; nay, separating even the duties of a patriot from those of an advocate, he must go on reckless of the consequences, if his fate it should unhappily be, to involve his country in confusion for his client.

as the height of professionalism.

Post-engagement of course.

If ethics are your concern, have that discussion with your prospective client before you are hired.

Otherwise, clients have goals and the task of a professional is how to achieve them. Nothing more.

National Food Days

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

All the National Food Days by Nathan Yau.

Nathan has created an interactive calendar of all the U.S. national food days.

Here is a non-working replica to entice you to see his interactive version:


What’s with July having a national food day every day?

Lobby for your favorite food and month!

Failure of Thinking and Visualization

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Richard Bejtlich posted this image (thumbnail, select for full size) with the note:

When I see senior military schools create slides like this, I believe PPT is killing campaign planning. @EdwardTufte


I am loathe to defend PPT but the problem here lies with the author and not PPT.

Or quite possibly with concept of “center of gravity analysis.”

Whatever your opinion about the imperialistic use of U.S. military force, 😉 , the U.S. military is composed of professional warriors who study their craft in great detail.

On the topic “center of gravity analysis,” try Addressing the Fog of COG: Perspectives on the Center of Gravity in US Military Doctrine, Celestino Perez, Jr., General Editor. A no-holds barred debate by military professionals on COG.

With or without a background on COG, how do your diagrams compare to this one?

Whose Chose Trump and Clinton?

Monday, August 1st, 2016

If you have been wondering who is responsible for choosing Trump and Clinton as the presidential nominees in 2016, you will find Only 9% of America Chose Trump and Clinton as the Nominees by Alicia Parlapiano and Adam Pearce quite interesting.

Using a fixed grid on the left hand side of the page that represents 324 million Americans, 1 square = 1 million people, the article inscribes boundaries on the grid for a series of factual statements.

For example, the first statement after the grid reads:

103 million of them are children, noncitizens or ineligible felons, and they do not have the right to vote.

For that statement, the grid displays:


An excellent demonstration that effective visualization requires a lot of thought and not necessarily graphics that jump and buzz with every movement of the mouse.

Successive statements reduce the area of people who voted in the primaries and even further by who voted for Trump or Clinton.

Eventually you are left with the 9% who chose the current nominees.

To be safe, you need 5% of the voting population to secure the nomination. Check the voting rolls for who votes in primaries and pay them directly. Cheaper than media campaigns and has the added advantage of not annoying the rest of the electorate with your ads.

If that sounds “undemocratic,” tell me what definition of democracy you are using where 9% of the population chooses the candidates and a little more than 30% will choose the winner?

Learning a Manifold of Fonts

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Learning a Manifold of Fonts by Neill D.F. Campbell and Jan Kautz.


The design and manipulation of typefaces and fonts is an area requiring substantial expertise; it can take many years of study to become a proficient typographer. At the same time, the use of typefaces is ubiquitous; there are many users who, while not experts, would like to be more involved in tweaking or changing existing fonts without suffering the learning curve of professional typography packages.

Given the wealth of fonts that are available today, we would like to exploit the expertise used to produce these fonts, and to enable everyday users to create, explore, and edit fonts. To this end, we build a generative manifold of standard fonts. Every location on the manifold corresponds to a unique and novel typeface, and is obtained by learning a non-linear mapping that intelligently interpolates and extrapolates existing fonts. Using the manifold, we can smoothly interpolate and move between existing fonts. We can also use the manifold as a constraint that makes a variety of new applications possible. For instance, when editing a single character, we can update all the other glyphs in a font simultaneously to keep them compatible with our changes.

To get a realistic feel for this proposal, try the interactive demo!

One major caveat:

In another lifetime, I contacted John Hudson of Tyro Typeworks about the development of the SBL Font series:


The origins of that project are not reflected on the SBL webpage, but the difference between John’s work and that of non-professional typographers is obvious even to untrained readers.

Nothing against experimentation with fonts but realize that for truly professional results, you need to hire professionals who live and breath the development of high quality fonts.


Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

JuxtaposeJS Frame comparisons. Easy to make. Seamless to publish. (Northwestern University Knight Lab, Alex Duner.)

From the webpage:

JuxtaposeJS helps storytellers compare two pieces of similar media, including photos, and GIFs. It’s ideal for highlighting then/now stories that explain slow changes over time (growth of a city skyline, regrowth of a forest, etc.) or before/after stories that show the impact of single dramatic events (natural disasters, protests, wars, etc.).

It is free, easy to use, and works on all devices. All you need to get started are links to the images you’d like to compare.

Perhaps an unexpected use, but if you are stumped on a “find all the differences” pair of photos, split them and create a slider!

This isn’t a hard one but for example use these two images:

As the slider moves over a change between the two images, your eye will be drawn towards the motion. (Visit Cranium Crunches Blog for more puzzles and images like this one.)

On a more serious note, imagine the use of this app for comparison of aerial imagery (satellite, plane, drone) and using the human eye to spot changes in images. Could be more timely than streaming video for automated analysis.

Or put differently, it isn’t the person with the most intell, eventually, that wins, but the person with the best intell, in time.

D3 4.0.0

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Mike Bostock tweets:

After 12+ months and ~4,878 commits, I am excited to announce the release of D3 4.0! … #d3js

After looking at the highlights page on Github, I couldn’t in good conscience omit any of it:

D3 is now modular, composed of many small libraries that you can also use independently. Each library has its own repo and release cycle for faster development. The modular approach also improves the process for custom bundles and plugins.

There are a lot of improvements in 4.0: there were about as many commits in 4.0 as in all prior versions of D3. Some changes make D3 easier to learn and use, such as immutable selections. But there are lots of new features, too! These are covered in detail in the release notes; here are a few highlights.

Colors, Interpolators and Scales

Shapes and Layouts

Selections, Transitions, Easings and Timers

Even More!

Don’t complain to me that you are bored over the Fourth of July weekend in the United States.

Downloads:, Source code (zip), Source code (tar.gz).

ggplot2 – Elegant Graphics for Data Analysis – At Last Call

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

ggplot2 – Elegant Graphics for Data Analysis by Hadley Wickham.

Hadley tweeted today that “ggplot2” is still up but will be removed after publication.

If you want/need a digital copy, now would be a good time to acquire one.

For The Artistically Challenged (that includes me)

Thursday, May 12th, 2016


If you are looking for animated gifs for a blog post, presentation, etc., give GIPHY a try.

Now that I have found it, I’m likely to spend too much time looking for the perfect animated GIF.


Countries Wanting UK to Stay in EU [Bad Graphics]

Thursday, May 5th, 2016


Before you read The map showing which countries want the UK to stay in the EU or my comment below, a question for you:

Do countries shaded in lighter colors support the UK remaining in the EU?

Simple enough question.

Unfortunately you are looking at one of the worst representations of sentiment I have seen in a long time.

From the post:

The indy100 have created the following graphic based on the data. In the map, the darker the shade of blue, the more support there is in that country for the UK to remain in the EU. The scores are calculated by subtracting the percentage of people who want Britain to leave, from those who want Britain to remain.

That last line:

The scores are calculated by subtracting the percentage of people who want Britain to leave, from those who want Britain to remain.

is what results in the odd visualization.

A chart later in the post reports that support for UK leaving the EU is only 18% in France, which would be hard to guess from the “32” shown on the map.

The map shows the gap between two positions, one for the UK to stay and the other for it to leave, and the shading represents the distance between staying and supporting positions.

That is if public opinion were 50% to stay in the EU and 50% to leave the EU, that county would be colored clear with a score of 0.

Reporting support and/or opposition percentages with coloration based on those percentages would be far clearer.

Python Code + Data + Visualization (Little to No Prose)

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Up and Down the Python Data and Web Visualization Stack

Using the “USGS dataset listing every wind turbine in the United States:” this notebook walks you through data analysis and visualization with only code and visualizations.

That’s it.

Aside from very few comments, there is no prose in this notebook at all.

You will either hate it or be rushing off to do a similar notebook on a topic of interest to you.

Looking forward to seeing the results of those choices!

WordsEye [Subject Identity Properties]

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016


A site that enables you to “type a picture.” What? To illustrate:

A [mod] ox is a couple of feet in front of the [hay] wall. It is cloudy. The ground is shiny grass. The huge hamburger is on the ox. An enormous gold chicken is behind the wall…

Results in:


The site is in a close beta test but you can apply for an account.

I mention “subject identity properties” in the title because the words we use to identify subjects, are properties of subjects, just like any other properties we attribute to them.

Unfortunately, words are viewed by different people as identifying different subjects and the different words as identifying the same subjects.

The WordsEye technology can illustrates the fragility of using a single word to identify a subject of conversation.

Or that multiple identifications have the same subject, with side by side images that converge on a common image.

Imagine that in conjunction with 3-D molecular images for example.

I first saw this in a tweet by Alyona Medelyan.

Nebula Bliss

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Nebula Bliss

Visually impressive 3-D modeling of six different nebula.

I did not tag this with astroinformatics as it is a highly imaginative but non-scientific visualization.



The image is a screen capture from the Butterfly Nebula visualization.

So You Want To Visualize Data? [Nathan Yau’s Toolbox]

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

What I Use to Visualize Data by Nathan Yau.

From the post:

“What tool should I learn? What’s the best?” I hesitate to answer, because I use what works best for me, which isn’t necessarily the best for someone else or the “best” overall.

If you’re familiar with a software set already, it might be better to work off of what you know, because if you can draw shapes based on numbers, you can visualize data. After all, this guy uses Excel to paint scenery.

It’s much more important to just get started already. Work with as much data as you can.

Nevertheless, this is the set of tools I use in 2016, which converged to a handful of things over the years. It looks different from 2009, and will probably look different in 2020. I break it down by place in my workflow.

As Nathan says up front, these may not be the best tools for you but it is a great starting place. Add and subtract from this set as you develop your own workflow and habits.


PS: Nathan Yau tweeted a few hours later: “Forgot to include this:”


World Flag Map (D3.js)

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

D3.js Boetti by sepinielli

For those who believe in national borders:


D3.js is powerful enough to portray self-serving fictions.

Source code included.

I first saw this in a tweet by Christophe Viau.

16 Famous Designers Show Us Their Favorite Notebooks [Analog Notebooks]

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

16 Famous Designers Show Us Their Favorite Notebooks by John Brownlee.

From the post:

Sure, digital design apps might be finally coming into their own, but there’s still nothing better than pen and paper. Here at Co.Design, we’re notebook fetishists, so we recently asked a slew of designers about their favorites—and whether they would mind giving us a look inside.

It turns out they didn’t. Across multiple disciplines, almost every designer we asked was thrilled to tell us about their notebook of choice and give us a look at how they use it. Our operating assumption going in was that most designers would probably be pretty picky about their notebooks, but this turned out not to be true: While Muji and Moleskine notebooks were the common favorites, some even preferred loose paper.

But what makes the notebooks of designers special isn’t so much what notebook they use, as how they use them. Below, enjoy a peek inside the working notebooks of some of the most prolific designers today—as well as their thoughts on what makes a great one.

Images of analog notebooks with links to sources!

I met a chief research scientist at a conference who had a small pad of paper for notes, contact information, etc. Could have had the latest gadget, etc., but chose not to.

That experience wasn’t unique as you will find from reading John’s post.

Notebooks, analog ones, have fewer presumptions and limitations than any digital notebook.

Albert Einstein had pen/pencil and paper.


Same was true for John McCarty.


Not to mention Donald Knuth.


So, what have you done with your pen and paper lately?*

* I’m as guilty as anyone in thinking that pounding a keyboard = being productive. But the question: So, what have you done with your pen and paper lately? remains a valid one.

Valentine’s Day Hearts

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

If you have an appropriate other to send Valentine’s cards, greetings, etc., consider:

Can we make a love heart with LaTeX?

A few of the images you can customize:




For searches like “valentines day hearts TeX” and “valentines day hearts LaTeX,” you really wish that Google was less “helpful.”

As you know, TeX “corrects” to text and LaTeX, well, you know how that is corrected. 😉

Even if you convince Google that you really meant “TeX,” the returns remain mostly garbage.

Here a search that returns 74 “hits” that Google dedupes down to 18 (most of which are dupes):

valentine heart

But 18 “hits” are manageable:

drawing water droplets with tikz mentions Example: Valentine heart at

Then you will find 13 “hits” that include this sentence:

We have questions about Christmas trees and Hearts for Valentines but we have no questions that specialize in Halloween or Dia de los Muertos art.

Why Google doesn’t dedupe those isn’t known.

I tried several of the better known TeX/LaTeX sites with “valentine” and the site name. Not anything like a comprehensive survey but there were several zero search results.

Is it the case that the TeX/LaTeX communities don’t have much interest in Valentine heart drawing? 😉

You will fare even worse if you search for heart limited to the domain

On the other hand, SVG and valentine “searches” fairly well.

Here’s one from Wiki Commons:


Credit your sources (discretely) on any artwork you reproduce.


PS: Now all I have to do is corral an old inkjet color printer into working as a local printer, pray the color cartridge hasn’t dried up, etc. Happy Valentine’s Day!

‘Avengers’ Comic Book Covers [ + MAD, National Lampoon]

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

50 Years of ‘Avengers’ Comic Book Covers Through Color by Jon Keegan.

From the post:

When Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” opens in theaters next month, a familiar set of iconic colors will be splashed across movie screens world-wide: The gamma ray-induced green of the Hulk, Iron Man’s red and gold armor, and Captain America’s red, white and blue uniform.

How the Avengers look today differs significantly from their appearance in classic comic-book versions, thanks to advancements in technology and a shift to a more cinematic aesthetic. As Marvel’s characters started to appear in big-budget superhero films such as “X-Men” in 2000, the darker, muted colors of the movies began to creep into the look of the comics. Explore this shift in color palettes and browse more than 50 years of “Avengers” cover artwork below. Read more about this shift in color.

The fifty years of palettes are a real treat and should be used alongside your collection of the Avenger comics for the same time period. 😉

From what I could find quickly, you will have to purchase the forty year collection separately from more recent issues.

Of course, if you really want insight into American culture, you would order Absolutely MAD Magazine – 50+ Years.

MAD issues from 1952 to 2005 (17,500 pages in full color). Annotating those issues to include social context would be a massive but highly amusing project. And you would have to find a source for the following issues.

A more accessible collection that is easily as amusing as MAD would be the National Lampoon collection. Unfortunately, only 1970 – 1975 are online. 🙁

One of my personal favorites:


Visualization of covers is a “different” way to view all of these collections and with no promises, could be interesting comparisons to contemporary events when they were published.

Mapping the commentaries you will find in MAD and National Lampoon to current events when they were published, say to articles in New York Time historical archive, would be a great history project for students and an education in social satire as well.

If anyone objects to the lack of a “serious” nature of such a project, be sure to remind them that reading the leading political science journal of the 1960’s, the American Political Science Review would have left the casual reader with few clues that the United States was engaged in a war that would destroy the lives of millions in Vietnam.

In my experience, “serious” usually equates with “supports the current system of privilege and prejudice.”

You can be “serious” or you can choose to shape a new system of privilege and prejudice.

Your call.

Twitter Graph Analytics From NodeXL (With Questions)

Friday, January 29th, 2016

I’m sure you have seen this rather impressive Twitter graphic:


And you can see a larger version, with a link to the interactive version here:

Impressive visualization but…, tell me, what can you learn from these tweets about big data?

I mean, visualization is a great tool but if I am not better informed after using the visualization than before, what’s the point?

If you go to the interactive version, you will find lists derived from the data, such as “top 10 vertices, ranked by Betweeness Centrality,” top 10 URLs in the graph and groups in the graph, top domains in the graph and groups in the graph, etc.

None of which is evident from casual inspection of the graph. (Top influencers might be if I could get the interactive version to resize but difficult unless the step between #11 and #10 was fairly large.

Nothing wrong with eye candy but for touting the usefulness of visualization, let’s look for more intuitive visualizations.

I saw this particular version in a tweet by Kirk D. Borne.

Introducing d3-scale

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

Introducing d3-scale by Mike Bostock.

From the post:

I’d like D3 to become the standard library of data visualization: not just a tool you use directly to visualize data by writing code, but also a suite of tools that underpin more powerful software.

To this end, D3 espouses abstractions that are useful for any visualization application and rejects the tyranny of charts.

…(emphasis in original)

Quoting from both Leland Wilkinson (The Grammar of Graphics) and Jacques Bertin (Semiology of Graphics, Mike says D3 should be used for ordinal and categorical dimensions, in addition to real numbers.

Much as been done to expand the capabilities of D3 but it remains up to you to expand the usage of D3 in new and innovative ways.

I suspect you can already duplicate the images (most of them anyway) from the Semiology of Graphics, for example, but that isn’t the same as choosing a graphic and scale that will present information usefully to a user.

Much is left to be done but Mike has given D3 a push in the right direction.

Will you be pushing along side him?

Visual Tools From NPR

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Tools You Can Use

From the post:

Open-source tools for your newsroom. Take a look through all our repos, read about our best practices, and learn how to setup your Mac to develop like we do.

Before you rush off to explore all the repos (there are more than a few), check out these projects on the Tools You Can Use page:

App Template – An opinionated template that gets the first 90% of building a static website out of the way. It integrates with Google Spreadsheets, Bootstrap and Github seamlessly.

Copytext – A Python library for accessing a spreadsheet as a native object suitable for templating.

Dailygraphics – A framework for creating and deploying responsive graphics suitable for publishing inside a CMS with pym.js. It includes d3.js templates for many different types of charts.

Elex – A command-line tool to get election results from the Associated Press Election API v2.0. Elex is designed to be friendly, fast and agnostic to your language/database choices.

Lunchbox – A suite of tools to create images for social media sharing.

Mapturner – A command line utility for generating topojson from various data sources for fast maps.

Newscast.js – A library to radically simplify Chromecast web app development.

Pym.js – A JavaScript library for responsive iframes.

More tools to consider for your newsroom or other information delivery center.