Writing from the sea: Mapping wikipedia

April 15, 2012By carlainteractives, news

When I first saw the Mapping Wikipedia project by TraceMedia (via FastCompany) I asked myself, “How are they writing from the sea?” I must have asked out loud because my partner responded, “Maybe they are in boats.” Maybe.

In all seriousness, this is an incredibly beautiful visualization that highlights Wikipedia activity across the world, filtered through seven languages and all countries, under the context of the Middle East and North Africa (it was designed as part of a project which studies those regions, so you’ll see right away that the language filters all relate to this geography–e.g., French and no Spanish).

I have to admit that I spent an inordinately long amount of time trying to recreate all the authors in boats scenario that I saw in the Fast Company screenshot (below). I couldn’t, but I had fun trying. All joking aside, the apparent simplicity bely the richness of the data underneath–this project was built using OpenLayers and GoogleMaps and is yet another example of the capabilities of HTML5. And FastCompany does a nice job of hinting at the myriad possibilities that something like this could open up. Take some time to select a few troubled spots in the world and you’ll see what I mean.

Wikipedia in Europe

Legos as a data visualization tool?

April 14, 2012By carlainformation, news

Yep, according to GM. An interesting article by Fast Company by talks about how GM, frustrated with data coming in traditional form (reports, bar charts, etc.), wasn’t getting the message across–a 2D solution wasn’t highlighting a 3D problem. So they used Legos to denote very physical things like location (colors denote where a particular part was located in a vehicle) and size (how bad is the problem).

Interesting. I find myself wondering how we, as designers, would tackle visualizing information differently if we could build it and model it in physical, not virtual, space.

I do know that switching media–a sketch on a napkin, laying out post-its on my whiteboard, or positioning pencils on a table–can be a useful way to inject perspective into a design. With a toddler in the house, I realize that I may have more tools at my disposal…

america by the numbers

April 6, 2012By carlanews

If you’re a data junkIe, chances are you’ve eagerly sucked down the data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau as a result of its mandatory (yep) 10-year American Community Survey. Now 60 Republicans want to make this survey optional. The implications for what this could do to the quality of the data are troubling. It’s a fairly robust source and, as Flowing Data points out, anecdotes only go so far. But mandatory? Tough call.