Shoutout to the Taming Data Readers

I’d like to give a shoutout to the Taming Data readers. This blog is now eight months old; I appreciate your interest and I’d like to thank you for reading me.

I’m currently writing my literature reviews in preparation for taking my Comprehensive Exams. I try to post consistently, but that is not always possible. I often wonder how Nathan Yau manages to post consistently while completing his doctoral work! This blog is a wonderful outlet for my non-academic-but-data-related interests, and I am grateful to have this opportunity to publicly procrastinate.

Invisible Urban Social Networks Made Visible

Our virtual social networks are bits of data flying through cyberspace. We see them via our apps and Web interfaces. But what would they look like if you geo-tagged them and visualized the connections over a virtual map? Christian Marc Schmidt and Liangjie Xia examined these connections within the urban space of the greater New York City area using Twitter and Flickr data.

Marc explains the Invisible Cities project like this:

By revealing the social networks present within the urban environment, Invisible Cities describes a new kind of city—a city of the mind. It displays geocoded activity from online services such as Twitter and Flickr, both in real-time and in aggregate. Real-time activity is represented as individual nodes that appear whenever a message or image is posted. Aggregate activity is reflected in the underlying terrain: over time, the landscape warps as data is accrued, creating hills and valleys representing areas with high and low densities of data.

In the piece, nodes are connected by narrative threads, based on themes emerging from the overlaid information. These pathways create dense meta-networks of meaning, blanketing the terrain and connecting disparate areas of the city.

Invisible Cities maps information from one realm—online social networks—to another: an immersive, three dimensional space. In doing so, the piece creates a parallel experience to the physical urban environment. The interplay between the aggregate and the real-time recreates the kind of dynamics present within the physical world, where the city is both a vessel for and a product of human activity. It is ultimately a parallel city of intersections, discovery, and memory, and a medium for experiencing the physical environment anew.

I was fascinated by the mapping of a virtual social network within an urban city combined with the overlay of quotes and line connections. The “mountains” within the city also caught my eye — which part of your community would tweet and/or use Flickr the most and least?

[Via @utopiah]

The History of Nikola Tesla – an Animated Short Story

Nikola Tesla created white lighting and Alternating Current (AC), feuded with Thomas Edison, and contributed greatly to the development of wireless communications. Without AC, we’d have power stations every two miles, and I wonder if the Internet would have been able to develop the way that it has! Thanks to Tesla, we have the electrical power to create and run the systems that hold the data we tame. I highly encourage you to check out the PBS web site on Tesla’s life, Master of Lightning.

The featured animated short below of Tesla’s life was created by Jeremiah Warren. He writes:

This video was created for the 154th anniversary of Nikola Tesla. It was written, voiced, animated, drawn, and completed in under 36 hours.

Warren also maintains a Facebook page on Tesla.

OK, geeks, who is your favorite scientist that contributed to our communications infrastructure? Edison? Tesla? Or, do you have another favorite?

[Citation: the thumbnail image on the upper left of this post is of US Patent 685,957 Apparatus For The Utilization of Radiant Energy
Nikola Tesla – November 5, 1901
. The full (larger) image of the patent is available via Oliver Nichelson’s article, Tesla’s Fuelless Generator, Nikola Tesla’s Later Energy Generation Designs.]

Team Digital Preservation and the Arctic Mountain Adventure

Team Digital Preservation released the 4th animation in their hilarious series on digital preservation this week.

In this episode, the topic is preservation planning, one of my areas.

Digiman is baby sitting his niece and nephew for the weekend, but things go horribly wrong when he sends them out on an arctic mountain adventure. Never fear trusty viewers PLATO, the Planets Preservation Planning tool, comes to the rescue showing Digiman the error of his ways.

Previous episodes include:

The Project Management Tree Swing Cartoon, Past and Present

The project management tree swing cartoon below is famous amongst those of us who have engaged in any kind of software project management. I first came across it in the late 1990s, when I managed small projects at a regional data communications company. I remember printing it out and hanging it in my cubicle, as a reminder of what not to do. I would read it as a reminder to keep my sense of humor in the midst of a frustrating project implementation.

A few months ago, I thought of it and searched online for it. Project management may not be as sexy as data science, but if you don’t properly manage the implementation of your data and systems, you won’t be “sexying” anything, much less taming your data! As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out” (GIGO).
Continue reading “The Project Management Tree Swing Cartoon, Past and Present”

Facebook: By the Numbers

The numbers behind the Facebook phenomenon are staggering. Users spend 500 million minutes per month on the site. Seventy different languages are used on Facebook. As of December 2000, there were an estimated 361 million users on the Internet; as of 2010, Facebook alone has 400 million users. As of this writing, the Facebook user population is larger than the entire population of the United States. Only, two countries, China and India, have larger populations than the current number of users on Facebook.

Launched from a Harvard dorm room in 2004, the site had 1500 registrants within the first 24 hours, and 1 million users in the first year. Facebook’s 2008 revenue alone is estimated at $300 million.

How do I know all of this? Brian Fisher researched the stats and then created the animation below, called Facebook: By the Numbers.

The author describes the video as:

A short animation about Facebook, displaying a timeline and overview of the website with numbers and statistics. The data and research that I collected was between 3/3/10 and 5/14/10. I created all of the visuals and motion.

Fisher obtained the statistics from the following sources, which he cites in the last section of the animation.

brian fisher vimeo citations facebook: by the numbers

Are there any statistics that stand out to you?

I would like to have seen a few statistics on the evolution of Facebook privacy controls, but I am nitpicking. I think the animation provides a great deal of information to the viewer within a very short time frame, in an understandable format, with a great, funky-but-relaxing soundtrack. Data deluge, you’ve been tamed.