March 2009

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John Chambers, CEO of CISCO on what the future holds, from MITWorld. He thinks we are about to see the most fundamental change in businesses and government that we’ve ever seen, moving from command and control to collaboration and teamwork.

My son may be sent to Afghanistan as part of the Canadian ISAF Contribution which makes looking at these data more important to me.  I am very impressed with how the UK Guardian Data Blog shares the datasets the paper compiles with its stories and I have been having a great time experimenting with IBM’s ManyEyes.

First I was looking at the UK Guardian Story How many troops does each country send to Afghanistan?  In particular their Afghanistan map of Where the Troops are.

I used the Guardian’s date to create the following visualization:
Tag Cloud which nicely sandwiched the worlds contribution between United and States.

TreeMap which unfortunately lacks colour but does adequately shows the proportion of the contributions

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a Global Map of who is contributing which I think is very useful and telling of who is in and who is not.

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a Bubblechart, which shows the proportions again, with colour, however, I find that bubbles makes the story seem a less serious than it actually is

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Philippe Rekacewicz — mars 2009, Monde Diplomatique

Philippe Rekacewicz — mars 2009, Monde Diplomatique

I came across this headline for a map – la Géographie des savants accompanied by the following article La guerre des idées this morning. I also discovered a treasure trove of global issue thematic cartographic representations.  There was also a great article that reinvoked that age old debate around visualization, art, objectivity, truth in La cartographie, entre science, art et manipulation.  It is very refreshing to see and read this material since in the non-French world we rarely use the word cartography in any popular sense anymore, and with the advent of google and mashups we are also seeing mapping, and GIS – which of course have their merits but do lack in the aesthetic communicative rigour. Cartography is a wonderful scientific art that both delights and informs, and what a pleasure to find a rich visual narrative of the world here at le Monde Diplomatique this morning.

Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) is

Canada’s national science library and leading scientific publisher, provides Canada’s research and innovation community with tools and services for accelerated discovery, innovation and commercialization.

CISTI delvers science data and information to Canadians online, in the Depository Service and as paper delivery service to researchers in Universities.  But its days of doing that are numbered…

CISTI has just suffered very serious budget cuts – 70% cut – that affects scientific innovation, access to scientific data, the dissemination of Canadian Science and open access publishing.

The Government of Canada and the National Research Council of Canada have decided that the journals and services of NRC Research Press will be transferred to the private sector.

Privatization? In a sense they are a victim of their own success.  The NRC frames it as follows in a letter to their clients (e.g. Depository Service Program):

this transformation is not the development of a “new business” but the movement of a successful program into a new legal and business environment. It is our belief that this new environment will afford us more flexibility to manage our publishing activities.

More flexibility to reduce services to Canadians more like it since the Depository Services Program (DSP) and the delivery of online access to journals to Canadians cannot be funded by an entity outside of the Federal government, and it is expected that the termination date to journals delivered in this way will be sometime in 2010.

This means less access to scientific journals to Canadians. Research Canadians have paid for!  CISTI journals deposited in the DSP were important, since the DSP’s:

primary objective is to ensure that Canadians have ready and equal access to federal government information. The DSP achieves this objective by supplying these materials to a network of more than 790 libraries in Canada and to another 147 institutions around the world holding collections of Canadian government publications.

In addition, hundreds of government jobs – scientists, librarians and researchers are expected to be lost.  The budget cut is $35 million in annual expenditures.

This plan includes a reduction in NRC’s a-base funding totalling $16.8 million per year by 2011-2012 (announced in Budget 2009) as well as reductions in revenue-generating activities.

Hmm! Wonder what our current Federal Minister of State for Science and Technology’s thoughts are about science?

Here are a couple of articles:


Here are a few articles:

  • NRC cuts could affect 300 positions, The Ottawa Citizen
  • Access to CISTI Source to End
  • Action:

    I am always impressed with what a few hundred dollars and a contest can produce.   FlowingData ran a financial crisis visualization contest where they offered $500 to the best global finance infographic and had these judged by a prominent economist.  Go and check out the results – you’ll see some very clever ways to unravel the complexity!

    USA today produced this interesting interactive map Shifting Religious Identities which renders and makes visual data from the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) conducted by Trinity College scholars. The data, report and methodology from/of this survey are available to the public.  In addition, the project makes available previous surveys with their associated documentation in their archive.

    In Canada, the Statistics Canada Census collects this information by

    religious affiliation only, regardless of whether respondents actually practice their religion. Data on the frequency of attendance at religious services have been collected by Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey since 1986. The survey samples adults aged 15 and over living in private households in the 10 provinces (1).

    The 2001 overview provides some interesting data, a bit dated, only at the provincial and community scale and not rendered in an interesting way.  If you want more detail you must purchase it.  A map like the USA Today one could be rendered with what is made available but alas Canadian newspapers are no way near as savvy as the ones in the US when it comes to data visualization, let alone talking about and using statistics!

    Contradicting the StatCan quote above,

    the census has been collecting data on religion since 1871. Since this question is asked in decennial censuses (every 10 years), it was last asked in 2001 and was not included on the 2006 Census questionnaire. (2)

    That question is also only asked to 20% of the population that fills out the Census.  Some general information is available for free in the Community Profiles on a location by location basis but not for small census geographies and not for many communities at the same time.  Those data at those geographies are available to fee paying citizens.

    Perhaps Canadian churches, mosques, synagoges, gudwaras, temples etc. can pass the data donation basket to purchase some of this information!

    From Jon Udell:

    I spent last weekend in DC at Transparency Camp, which turned out to be one of the best cultural mashups I’ve attended in a long time. If we can get federal policy wonks and Silicon Valley tech geeks working together in the right ways, there’s good reason to hope that our government can become not just more transparent, but also more effective, more collaborative, more democratic. [more…]

    I always enjoy looking at data analysis experiments from people who just like to play with numbers and who want to figure odd stuff out.  The former fun find today was this gem Books and Music That Make You Dumb where CalTeck student Virgil Griffith

    used aggregated Facebook data about the favorite bands and books among students of various colleges and plotted them against the average SAT scores at those schools, creating a tongue-in-cheek statistical look at taste and intelligence.

    Griffith is also the creator of

    WikiScanner, a database that tracks the IP addresses of anonymous Wikipedia editors, he revealed that the CIA, the Vatican, and staff of various members of Congress (among others) had made edits on the site to remove potentially sensitive information.

    As for the latter, I came across a title called Spamdog Millionaire – The geography of social media spam, which I could not resist reading! In this case Philip Jacob on the StyleFeeder Tech Blog did the following

    For each account that we have closed due to spammy activity, I ran their source IP addresses through a GeoIP lookup and graphed the data using DabbleDB (which I had been meaning to play with for some time – more on that later). The result: India, in a word. Pakistan, too.

    The visualization was not earth shattering, however the conversation about what to do with that information was infrastructurally and geographically interesting.  The discussion centrered on the ethic of firewalling entire countries for the bad behaviours of some, and what it means when bad netizens from certain regions of the world get their nations access to content cut off!

    Via: Polymeme

    The Journal of Electronic Publishing has a comprehensive article by Peter Suber about the status of Open Access in 2008:

    A staggering amount of energy was poured into implementing open access (OA) in 2008. This is an attempt to show its depth and breadth, while admitting that the full story can’t be captured in one article. There’s a lot of detail here, but it’s selective and I’ve tried to present just the highlights of 2008 in nine categories, with a 10th section for highlights of the highlights. To keep it within bounds, I’ve omitted some sections I’ve formerly included, such as open education, open access for public-sector information, and the universe of wikis. As always, apologies to the many projects I couldn’t include. [more…]