Animation of the TransAtlantic Flight Paths of Over 2000 Airplanes

Here’s a relaxing video and soundtrack to start off your Monday.



An animation by the National Air Traffic Services (Nats), the UK air traffic control service, demonstrates the flight paths of the 2,000 to 3,000 aircraft that fly across the North Atlantic on a daily basis. This animation shows 2,524 flights that travelled between Canada, the US and Europe on a single day in August 2013

Of course, knowing that many airplanes are in the air at any given time of the day may not be your idea of relaxation. However…Happy Monday!

[Source: The Guardian.]

Prudential: The Curious Secrets of a Long Life (Kind of)

the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Do you want to live a long life? Or would you rather live fast and short? Either way, Prudential has some amusing tips for you on how to extend your life. (And if you don’t want to live a long life, now you’ll know what not to do in order to shorten your time on this earth.)

Will you make any changes to your current lifestyle, after watching this video?

The GDP Monster: Always Under Revision

Gross Domestic Product NBC NewsAh, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Does it keep you awake at night? No? Well, it should. “Why is that?” you ask, “I’ve got other things to worry about.”

Investopedia defines the GDP as “the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period, though GDP is usually calculated on an annual basis. It includes all of private and public consumption, government outlays, investments and exports less imports that occur within a defined territory.”

So what does that mean in plain English? It means the GDP is an indicator of your standard of living.

If you would like to learn a little more about the GDP, then watch this (U.S.-centric) video. NBC News created this animation to provide a simple explanation of the GDP. (All countries have a GDP; NBC News is focusing on the United States.)

NBCNews.com | December 20, 2013

The GDP monster: Always under revision

The Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, is constantly being revived. That‘s because counting all the goods and services sold in the country can be a challenging and overwhelming task. Usually, the government issues at least three versions of the GDP, but last year, the figure was revised all the way back to 1929. Watch this video, reported with CNBC’s Jeff Cox to learn why.

Now will you worry about the GDP of your country? :)

If you are in the United States, you may review data about the GDP on the web site of the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Surfboards & Golf Carts: Inflation’s Mixed Costs

NBC News Consumer Price Index AnimationHave you ever wondered how U.S. government economists determine inflation, i.e., whether or not costs in the United States are going up or down relative to salaries and the U.S. dollar?

Me, neither. But NBC News did.

They created this short and entertaining animation about the Consumer Price Index, or CPI. The writers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics define the CPI this way: “The Consumer Price Indexes (CPI) program produces monthly data on changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of goods and services.”

NBCNews.com | December 16, 2013

Surfboards & golf-carts: Inflation’s mixed costs

Every month the government issues its measure of consumer inflation, and every month slews of Americans scratch their heads in puzzlement. For a better understanding of this important, but complicated, economic indicator, watch this animation, reported with CNBC’s Allison Linn.

Do you think you understand the CPI now?

Dumb Ways to Die, Via Melbourne, Australia’s Metro Trains

Dumb Ways to Die by Melbourne, Australia's Metro TrainsSo, you want to make a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that will deter the public from engaging in activities that may cause bodily harm, if not death, around trains.

How do you do this?

If you are the Melbourne, Australia Metro Train organization, you create a catchy animated and real-world video of the various ways to die, augmented by a catchy tune.

This video first went viral in November 2012. Recently, it “won the Grand Prix in the public relations and direct marketing categories at the Cannes Lions festival.” In addition to doing well at Cannes, the video “won gongs at One Show D&AD and the Webby Awards. It also earned mentions in YouTube’s Year in Review, Google’s Zeitgeist and TED’s Ideas Worth Spreading.”

I thought this was a great way to take a serious topic and engage the public with a slew of serious data and information.

Do you have any favorite PSAs?

The Value of Data Visualization

Have you ever wondered why data visualization matters? Do you prefer to look simply at numbers in a spreadsheet, or would you rather seen an image of that data?

Many people learn better visually. We all have to crawl through a great deal of data each and every day as well as process the meaning of all of this information. So, why bother with data visualization at all?

To understand that, it helps to understand the principles we strive for in data journalism. At The New York Times, we strongly believe that visualization is reporting, with many of the same elements that would make a traditional story effective: a narrative that pares away extraneous information to find a story in the data; context to help the reader understand the basics of the subject; interviewing the data to find its flaws and be sure of our conclusions. Prettiness is a bonus; if it obliterates the ability to read the story of the visualization, it’s not worth adding some wild new visualization style or strange interface. (From: http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/10/word-clouds-considered-harmful/.)

Column Five on Vimeo also provides a brief overview on The Value of Data Visualization below.

What do you think are the key concepts for a clear visualization of data? What do you consider a bad info graphic? Do you have a favorite infographic? (This could be a favorite because it is excellent, or a favorite because it is so awesomely bad.)

[Via Junar.]

User Experience Design

Have you ever visited a web site and wondered who created such a great experience? Have you ever wondered who makes the invisible visible?

No? Why do you think that is? If it works well, you don’t notice it, and if the site is a mess, it is all you do notice.

Therefore, what element can help make or break a web site?

To me, one of these elements is the site’s User Experience Design, or lack thereof.

The following humorous animations by Lyle hail the role of the user experience designer. I bow….

Do you have any favorite web sites? Why do you like them?

[Via frank j. garofalo.]

Language is Data, Too — Don’t Mind It Too Much

RogersCreations has created this delightful animation of Stephen Fry’s essay, “Don’t Mind Your Language“, called “Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography“. Fry decries pedants in this essay.

I enjoyed this video. As an academic, I both wish my grammar were better, yet at the same time know that language is a fluid and living beast. Ah! the contradictions.

Do you have any comments on the video or essay that you’d like to share?

Save the Data

Welcome to my own version of NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard-ism).

Yes, I know the US federal budget needs to be cut, but not my programs.

Seriously. :)

The Sunlight Foundation writes:

Some of the most important technology programs that keep Washington accountable are in danger of being eliminated. Data.gov, USASpending.gov, the IT Dashboard and other federal data transparency and government accountability programs are facing a massive budget cut, despite only being a tiny fraction of the national budget. Help save the data and make sure that Congress doesn’t leave the American people in the dark.

The video below provides a brief overview of some of the benefits the open data movement has provided.

If this issue is of concern to you, please sign a petition, write your Congressional Representative or Senator, write a letter to the editor, of just spread the word online via resources such as Twitter or Facebook.

[Via Citasa.org.]