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I just came across Many-Eyes which is a really great online collaborative data visualization tool designed by the IBM Collaborative User Experience (CUE) Visualization Collaboration Lab.

You essentially contribute a dataset and use their online visualization tools to see what you’ve got. A colleague added these Canadian City datasets and it was truly very easy and helpfull to find different ways to tease out patterns and to assess the best way derive a story from them.  The results provided us with a boundary object to facilitate our discussions on how we will design a report.

The options are great as you can create contemporary tag clouds, treemaps, network maps, flow lines, bubble charts, block histograms as well as your usual line graphs, pie charts and bar graphs.  They even have some rudimentory choropleth mapping tools.  You can view multiple variables and time series for a particular dataset which allows you to see change.

In our case, we will probably play with these tools and also excell graphs, present these to our graphic designers who will trace them into the look and feel of our report.  The best part is to know that we can communicate effectively without robbing the visualization bank and by moving forward on more interesting ways to tell our stories.



Now you can see what gas prices are around the country at a glance. Areas are color coded according to their price for the average price for regular unleaded gasoline.

Here is the US map.

[via infoesthetics]

I am doing some work looking at broadband maps and atlases. I started off with a trip to the Carleton Map library, I followed some very knowledgeable map librarians around and picked up a huge roll of paper maps to begin exploring this new subject. I discovered an excellent little folding paper map on Digital Inclusion. As I was looking at its sources I discovered that this map was part of a broader and very exciting online Atlas project that includes numerous map themes on social justice, environment, health, etc.

I like these maps because they are aesthetically pleasing, are accompanied by a table of content explaining the themes and indicators represented, and with data sources (aka metadata) that are made obvious and easy to understand. Each map w/its associated information is an overview of an issue. There are membership requirements to access additional data related to the maps.
Finally, this company has an interesting business model. The publication of the paper map was sponsored by Alcatel and is a superb information marketing tool at conferences, the UN, WDB, ADB, OECD etc. It is also excellent swag. Maplecroft is also

a successful specialist research and advisory company focused on the non-financial performance of large multinationals. It has a strong corporate client base and research partnerships with leading international organisations, such as those within the auspices of the United Nations, the World Economic Forum and prominent independent non-governmental organisations.

Maplecroft has developed particular expertise in strategy, management systems, indicators, cross sector partnership building, stakeholder engagement, audit, and risk management. It has a specific interest in cross sector engagement.

Primarily a commercial organisation, Maplecroft has formed and facilitated several strong multi-lateral partnerships with business, lobby groups and aid organisations for mutual benefit. It fundamentally operates as a social enterprise, whereby non-profit partner organisations gain from commercial engagements it may form. Maplecroft undertakes a great deal of pro-bono work, and seeks opportunities to contribute to the initiatives with which it becomes involved.

The cost of producing the high quality maps and associated information seen here is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the technology is the easy part, it is the cost of the minds and data associated with knowledge production and the maintenance of a reliable and trustworthy product that is really high. Few organizations beyond government can take on this sort of project on. It is most certainly an interesting and ethically driven business model.

It’s amazing the flowering of data visualization projects – and how well they sometimes bring to life abstract issues.

Here is a beautiful little project, which helps you understand the scale of the financial woes brought on by the subprime mortgage troubles in the US. It’s a complex problem with all sorts of reasons and ramifications, but the simplest explanation is this: in the past decade, banks have been falling over themselves to give out loans to really, really bad credit risks. This means that lots of money that’s gone out in loans isn’t coming back. Which means banks are going to start to fail.

You can see this by asking: how many loan repayments are more than 90 days late? And you could split that out among various banks, and track it over the period from 2002-2007, and see not just how many, but the value of those overdue payments. And if you did that, you’d get this:

bank mortgage

If you made that graph into a little movie over time, you’d be in good shape. Which is what and still i persist has done.

PS time to dump your shares of Wells Fargo, I’d say.

[thanks, as always, to infosthetics]

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