Category: Data Analysis

Maslow 2.0

Posted by – April 18, 2014

An Internet-era update to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
With thanks to Björn for the tip!


My Network, Visualized

Posted by – March 31, 2014

The experts say effective networking begins with examining your existing network, so I thought I would see what InMaps, LinkedIn’s visualization tool, could reveal about my professional network. As you can see below, InMaps shows each of my connections as dots with lines showing how they are connected, colors denoting groups, and the dot’s size increasing with the number of cross-links within my network.
My LinkedIn Network

I was struck by how many of my connections are from my AAAS Fellowship in 2010 (blue); while these are valued contacts, it does prompt me to network outside of that group to expand my reach. You might note that my network is relatively small, (< 200 contacts), and that is because I find that can't keep up with a set much larger than this (probably related to Dunbar’s number, somehow).

LinkedIn has also developed Swarm, an animated word-cloud visualization of the most actively searched job titles and company names.


P.S. Thanks to Alex for the tip!


Posted by – March 9, 2014

Forest fires of great intensity, size, and consequence – megafires — are becoming the new normal, according to a paper in the journal of the Ecological Society of America by Stephens et al. The article, flagged by the Washington Post yesterday, attributes the increasing frequency of megafires to climate-change induced drought; housing developments encroaching on forests; and the U.S. policy to suppress fires rather than letting them burn naturally, reducing the brush that fuels future fires. An NPR series from 2012 provides more detail.

The above map, from the U.S. Forest Service’s excellent Wildland Fire Assessment System, shows the current Fire Danger Rating based on current and antecedent weather, fuel types, and both live and dead fuel moisture (the classes are explained here).


The Tyranny of Jennifer

Posted by – December 1, 2013

To me, most data animations are just eye candy, but this animated map by Reuben Fischer-Baum is an exception. Fischer-Baum used Adobe Illustrator to assemble an animated gif of baby names from annual Social Security data to show the trend in time and space, telling a whole new story. Watching the animated GIF, you can see that female baby names often follow a pattern: a name springs up in some region of the U.S.—”Ashley” in the South, “Emily” in the Northeast — sweeps over the country, and falls out of favor nearly as quickly. The big exception to these baby booms and busts is “Jennifer”, which absolutely dominates America for a decade-and-a-half.

Now if you would color the states red and blue to show baby names by political party, too…


Crisis Camp for Haiyan Relief

Posted by – November 14, 2013

A group I follow, Understanding Risk, has posted a call for mapping assistance to support the typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan disaster relief efforts. They are recruiting volunteers to use OpenStreetMap to digitize roads, buildings, and other features from satellite imagery made freely available by Microsoft and the US State Department’s Humanitarian Information Unit. The resulting maps will be used by the Red Cross, the United Nations and other responding organizations working in the Philippines. To get started, you can:

– Visit the project coordination page for more information;

– Login to the OSM Tasking Manager (OpenStreetMap account required) and click on a task to contribute;

– For questions join the mailing list of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team; and

– If you are in DC, join the @OpenStreetMap at @CrisisCamp this Saturday, November 16.

In previous major disasters, efforts such as these have consistently proven to be valuable in support of disaster relief efforts.


Google Reunites

Posted by – October 22, 2013

Google has produced a moving short film based on the true story of an Indian boy, Saroo Munshi Khan, who found himself lost in the slums of Calcutta, and how he used hazy memories and Google Earth find his family over 25 years later:

Huffington Post and Vanity Fair brought this story to light a year ago, and Google produced and released the above video this week.



Posted by – July 6, 2013

The USDA Forest Service’s Active Fire Mapping Program uses satellite data and interagency information to provide detection and characterization of wildland fires across the United States and Canada. The program acquires temporal image data directly from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite for near real-time data coverage for the entire United States and Canada. This imagery is combined with fire intelligence information and GIS technologies to create a suite of geospatial products assessing current fire activity, fire intensity, burned area extent and smoke conditions throughout the U.S. and Canada. You can browse the results at the program’s extraordinary website as GIS datasets and live data services, multi-spectral image subsets, and analytical products/summaries.

And a note of great respect for those acting on this information on the ground, including nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots that died last week defending lives and property near Yarnell, AZ.


P.S. See also the Incident Command summary site for the Yarnell fire.

A Graphical Analysis of the Problem with the Internet

Posted by – February 18, 2013

My job requires me to do quite a lot of research online and I am by nature curious, leaving me vulnerable to pointlessly surfing the Internet. I don’t know if this is because our brains are wired to take pleasure in seeking/discovering or simple procrastination, but some days it feels like this (from xkcd):

The problem with Wikipedia

Of course, there really is a lot of information on the Internet, and Trace Media created an interactive map showing how just one part of it, Wikipedia, has grown over time (click on ‘search’, then wait – it loads slowly for the more ubiquitous languages):

Map of wikipedia

I guess that’s why my browser homepage is Get Back To Work.


Respect the Roundness

Posted by – January 30, 2013

NOAA and several commercial vendors have developed spherical displays of geoscience and mathematics that are both beautiful and thought provoking, allowing us to see phenomena like ocean currents, trade, climate, and geology evolving over time without the distortions of a 2-D projection. Examples in the video include (starting at 6:25) an animation of pollutants crossing the North Pole and (starting at 7:45) a depiction of continental drift from Pangea to present day. If you want to explore the datasets on your home computer, NOAA provides KML files for display using GoogleEarth.

Cheers to Dori for the tip!


Inaugural Overload

Posted by – January 21, 2013

WaPo Infographic for wireless congestion Inauguration Day preparations have included adding temporary cell towers along the National Mall in an attempt to avoid the wireless traffic congestion witnessed during the 2009 inauguration. Event organizers have also mounted a public information campaign to encourage people to send text messages rather than call and to avoid watching streaming video of the event. As the infographic at left shows, an SMS text message requires much less data to send than, say, a picture or cellphone conversation. Emergency managers often see wireless traffic overwhelm cellular networks during large events, and this year’s inauguration will likely attract 2 million people.

Event organizers also created the 57th Presidential Inauguration App that helps spectators stay informed and find their way to events and facilities.