Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Data Visualization: Changing the Way we Think, With Data

Data Visualization:

Changing the Way we Think, With Data

One of the current developments in Web 2.0 is the use of some behind the scenes applications (kind of like dynamic Legos®) that can link together other applications and make them even more useful together. (These behind the scenes modules are called API's) Maybe to oversimplify this a bit, this is the whole idea behind "mashups" -where for example one application, like Google Maps, is linked to another application, like a database somewhere of crime statistics. The result is a Google map showing those statistics in a dynamic way, changing as the statistics change.

Google crime map example

The exciting thing about this kind of development is that the map application and the database don't have to be from the same source (not from the same server, organization etc.) The final result draws from very different places across the expanse of the internet, and the API's (those dynamic linking applications behind the scenes) do all the fun work without the end-user even noticing it!

Here's another place to explore Google map mashups

## So why the title of "data visualization"?

+++ I first started to write this as an email to share the following link that has to do with an interesting website; the site shows job statistics across the US, in a dynamic and visual way. It might be useful to help think about such statistics in new ways, and/or for people who are more "visually oriented" with such things. It is just one of many new examples where such creative and interesting resources are being developed to present the vast stores of data now available across the internet.


If you are on the web at all, you probably use such mashups all the time without even realizing it! Amazon, Google, Google maps, Wikipedia and more now rely on mashups and their behind the scenes Application Programming Interfaces. They are part of the ongoing development of what makes the internet both more "user friendly" (at times!) and more dynamic.

1) An amazing talk on data visualization of global poverty and development.


2) Wikipedia entry on Mashups


3) A project on "news on your block" from the guy who first mashed Chicago crime data with neighborhood maps


4) A visualization of timeline information around the assassination of JFK. This example illustrates a project that provides the actual code that someone can use for similar presentations of timeline data.


5) A page that supports and demonstrates other such "mashups" that can be customized by any user---it is all "open source"

I hope you find this note useful in some way. If you do, let me know!


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