Shoutout to Taming Data Readers/Asteroids, A Love Story & Asteroids, an Online Version of the Arcade Game

I would like to thank the readers of this blog for their time and attention. I’m amazed every day at how many people want to read my scribblings.

In honor of the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, for your amusement I present, “Asteroids – A Love Story” from Nigel Upchurch. The song accompanying the video is a version of ‘No Time‘ by Juan MacLean.

If this love story inspires you to play the original asteroids game, try the online version, below. The embed code for this online version is available via Neave Games.

I hope you have a wonderful February.

Twitter Map of Profanity — Polite Plains & Profane Mountains

Have you ever wondered in what locations people swear more or less versus other geographic locations? I can’t say I have, either. Having said that, sometimes too much data can be a wonderful thing — if one has a sense of humor, that is.

Cartographer Daniel Huffman has used “1.5 millon geocoded tweets from last March 12 to April 9” 2010 [MSNBC] to create a color-coded map of Twitter profanity use. The lighter the color, the less use of profanity. He titled the map “Profane Mountains, Polite Plains“, and the article appears in Cartographic Perspectives (.pdf), the Journal of the North American Cartographic Information Society.

Daniel Huffman's Map of Twitter Profanity -- Profane Mountains, Polite Plains

Clicking on the above map will take you to the full PDF of the map, which is located on the web site of the North American Cartographic Information Society.

Daniel Huffman is responding to sincere comments about the map on his blog, Cartastrophe.

Are you surprised by any of the information presented in the map? Do you think that Twitter users would swear more or less than non-Twitter users, or do you believe the sample population are representative of the habits of the larger population (both Twitter users and non-Twitter users)?


Your Stomach Really Does Have a Mind of Its Own

Have you ever dieted and thought that your stomach controls your brain, not vice versa? Have your ever thought that your stomach has a mind of its own? If so, you may not be far off.

Researchers at the Nestle Corporation have been examining how to create a food that will tell the brain that the stomach is full, primarily to aid in weight loss. The Wall Street Journal discussed this research in an article entitled, “Hungry? Your Stomach Really Does Have a Mind of Its Own“.

Nestle, one of the world’s largest food companies, hopes to develop new types of foods that, essentially, seek to trick the gut brain. The foods could make people feel full earlier, or stay full longer, in order to curb the desire to eat more. For example, cooking french fries in oil that gets digested more slowly than regular oil could confer a longer-lasting sense of satiety, researchers speculate.

“This means that people will report a sense of fullness more quickly,” says Heribert Watzke, a senior food scientist at Nestle. “That tells the big brain to stop eating.”

During the course of this research, they have learned a few things about the stomach’s “gut brain”. The infographic below explains the data and information about how the stomach “thinks” regarding hunger in terms I can understand.

The Stomach Really Does Have a Mind of Its Own

Clicking on the image above will take you to a larger image with a zoom function. Image courtesy The Wall Street Journal.)

Does this infographic of what I believe is a complicated set of information and data about the stomach’s functioning explain to you why your stomach has a mind of its own?

The Information Explosion and Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom

The information explosion. What does that mean to you? Does it mean multi-tasking, multiple Internet-enabled devices, cyber-friends, a vast database of knowledge at your fingertips…and a sense of being overwhelmed with too much information?

If you were an adult before the World Wide Web became common, are you more informed or less informed because of the Web? From whom do you get most of your information now? Your church? Your school or workplace? Your family? Or marketers?

Plearn posted the thought-provoking video, Information – Deformation, below with the view that the information explosion is devoid of meaning. He asks, “Is there a difference between knowledge, information, and wisdom? If so, what is it?”

I’d like to see more links at the end of the video to the sources of his data, although he does provide some citations for some of the data he quotes. He threw a lot of figures out at me. I did like the questions the video explored, though.

Has the information explosion provided you with more or less meaning regarding your relationships with other people, and your life in general?

What Does a Librarian Do?

Have you ever wanted to be a librarian? Have you ever wondered what a librarian does?

This Vocational Guidance Film from 1947 describes what a librarian does, and what the requirements are to be a librarian. LIbrarianship is about managing, accessing, storing, and retrieving information. That information may be stored in a book, database or other kind of virtual or physical object.

I disagree with the statement that you must love books. If you apply to library school and state that you “love books” in your application, the library school faculty are likely to tell you to go work in a book store! You have to love managing information.

In your view, how well does the description of librarianship from 1947 apply to the work of a librarian in 2011? In my opinion, the general gist of the occupation is still relevant, such as reference and cataloging, even taking into account the digital component of librarianship in 2011.

Starbuck’s Adds the 31 oz “Trenta” to the Menu

How big is a 31 oz cold coffee beverage? How can you display the new beverage size so that a layperson like me can understand exactly how oversized the new beverage is?

Starbucks recently announced that they will add a larger size to their menu of beverages — the “Trenta“. As I stated above, the new cold beverage size is 31 oz.

The National Post created this graphic that shows exactly how large 31 oz is. In the metric system, 31 oz equals 916 ml. The average human stomach holds a mere 900 ml. In other words, if you drink one of these beverages, you probably won’t need a meal for a while. Thankfully (depending on your point-of-view), the new size will only be available for cold beverages.

Graphic: How big, exactly, is Starbucks’ new ‘Trenta’ size?

All I can say is, hot or cold, the last thing I want is someone near me to have consumed 31 oz of any caffeinated beverage!

Would you drink 31 oz of a caffeinated beverage at one sitting on a normal day?

[Blog post idea via Anderson Cooper’s “The Ridiculist“, video dated 18 January 2011. The thumbnail at the upper left of this post is courtesy the National Post.]

MLK Holiday: Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

How would you visually represent a landmark speech in US history?

I have posted a video of Dr. Martin Luther King’sI Have a Dream” speech below, in order to mark the holiday that honors him. The speech was given on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. You may read the full text of the speech via

Six Minutes created this Wordle below of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech to aid students in analyzing the speech’s content. The size of the word in the image correlates with its frequency.

How would you visually represent Dr. King’s landmark speech?

[The thumbnail image in the top left corner of this post is courtesy]

World Population: 7 Billion by the End of 2011

Seven billion people. That’s how many people the earth will carry by the end of 2011. I cannot imagine that many people, yet if we all stood shoulder to shoulder, apparently we could all stand in the area of the City of Los Angeles.

National Geographic Magazine has taken on the task of addressing the population boom by creating a year long series on human population growth. You may read the first feature article online. For example, according to the motion graphic video below that was created to market the year-long series, in 1800 the world’s population first hit 1 billion. Now, every second, 5 people are born. Where are we all living and where will most of us live? In urban areas.

The video throws a lot of data at you, but the visualization is such that I did take note of the information presented. As the authors of the video make clear, the population boom isn’t about space, it is about balance. We need to balance energy use, among other natural resources the authors of the above video did not mention. For example, we need to provide areas for wildlife to thrive and access to clean water for humans and animals.

You may also want to examine the photo slideshow by Randy Olsen, also via National Geographic as part of this series.

[Via Flowing Data.]

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

How would you organize, store, and disseminate data on 35,000 trans-Atlantic ship crossings that carried over 10 million Africans into slavery between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries?

The project team of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database has done just that. Data has been contributed by a few dozen people, and the project team consists of two principal investigators and an entire development team. Five universities are involved internationally, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities. The end result is a database that allows users to search by (ship) voyage, another database that allows users to estimate the number of people transported, and a third that allows users to explore a database of African names using “name, age, gender, origin, and place of embarkation”.

Users may examine a timeline of the number of captives embarked and disembarked per year, as well as nine maps from the Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New Haven, 2010), that show the routes, number of enslaved persons transported, ports, currents, and direction of the voyages.

Map 7: Major coastal regions from which captives left Africa, all years

Figure 1: Screenshot via the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database Introductory Maps page.

The countries and regions covered in the database include Africa, Europe, Brazil (i.e., “South America”), the Caribbean, and North America. The project team has digitized manuscripts and images of people and places and put those documents online for users to read and view. Other resources available online include lesson plans for grades 6-12, and links to related resources on the Web.

This is a great resource for genealogists, historians, teachers, and anyone who is interested in learning more about the forced migration of Africans to the New World.

[Via CNN.]

Beyond C.S.I.: The Rise of Computational Forensics

How can you determine if two fingerprints are merely similar or are an exact match? Is forensics as practiced currently, skill and art — or science?

I was surprised to learn from Sargur Srihari that forensics is not as scientific in its methods as one might think from watching the various TV shows. Neither are the practitioners as unbiased as one might prefer when examining the data. Srihari is working to improve forensic methodology. He writes that one way to improve the methodology is to use “pattern recognition and other computational methods [that] can reduce the bias inherent in traditional criminal forensics” [Srihari, 2010].

He wrote an article in the December 2010 IEEE Spectrum called Beyond C.S.I.: The Rise of Computational Forensics in which he gives an overview of how computational forensics can improve the methods and results of forensic investigation. For example, in the image below, he describes how computers are used to compare a shoe print from a crime scene against a database of known shoe prints.

To view a larger image, please click on it and click on it again on the new page.

Beyond C.S.I.: The Rise of Computational Forensics

Do you believe that computers can make forensic investigations more science than art and skill? Why or why not?