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The Week In Data

OWNI's data team have returned to bring you their first data round up of 2012, featuring seasonal diagrams, vintage visualizations, orchestral insights and the best of the Best Of's. It's The Week In Data!

by Paule d'Atha On January 9, 2012

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À propos de l'auteur

Paule d'Atha désigne l'équipe des journalistes de données d'Owni : Julien Goetz, Sylvain Lapoix et Nicolas Patte. Twitter @pdatha.


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To ease us gently into 2012, we begin our first The Week In Data of the year with some data lulz and a venn diagram that still smells faintly of fir trees and the big jolly red guy.

It’s taken from a small compilation of some of the best Christmas-themed visualizations which is helping to sooth our indigestion in this post-nativity period.

Looking back

That compilation allows us to segway cheerfully to the topic of Best Of lists. To kick off the new year we offer you our pick of the best of the end of year data Best Of’s.

Nathan Yau, the man behind Flowing Data, put together a beautiful selection of the datavisualization projects that stood out for him in 2011. We enjoyed having another look at some visualizations which had also stood out for us and discovering some others for the first time.

We also recommend searching the comments under the article, where a few other good references could appear.

Meanwhile, the Guardian made two entries in the Best Of category. Their team in London have released an article looking back on the year 2011 through its data: what data releases were the most striking, what stories did they tell, which numbers help us to trace back the events of the past year? It’s 12 months inside the head of a data journalist.

The Guardian’s research department has also produced a well thought out web application that visualizes, day by day, the 365 most important events in 2011. The interface is simple and ergonomic with a secondary navigation highlighting the big stories in 2011. You can even build your own top 10 news stories that had the greatest impact on you, and compare it with the choices of other Guardian readers.

Lastly from the Guardian, their e-book Facts are sacred is like a little Best Of all of its own. As the brief blurb says:

Facts are sacred shows how the Guardian Datastore and Datablog works with data. It reveals how data has changed our world, and what it tells us.

Rails, traffic and data

Staying in London, we head all the way back to the 1920’s. At that time, the early precursor of the modern dataviz could be widely seen across the Channel in poster campaigns for the London Underground.

90 years later on the other side of the Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal has built an impressive web-application analysing the habits of New York subway users. Card Usage analyzes data collected from travel card subscriptions. Neighborhood by neighborhood the user can see what types of subscriptions commuters use the most, and how that breakdown has evolved since fare increases in December 2010.

Since the 20’s and those London Underground datavisualizations, traffic levels have increased somewhat. When the Russian search engine Yandex launched a visualization service for traffic in Turkey, it collected enough data from GPS to be able to chart the traffic of Istanbul.

Below is November 3, 2011. The degree of congestion at the main junctions of the Turkish capital is indicated in the top right corner. The rendering is kind of hypnotic.

Flows, waves and indices

Not all flows have to be as frenetic as that, however: sometimes a dataviz can be zen. Take, for example, the relationship between the places where rain falls in the United States and those where it is consumed. That relationship is the basis for Drawing Water, a project that tracks the path of rainwater. The visualizations produced are pretty impressive, as is the interactive installation exhibited at UCLA where the visitor can modify the results using a tablet.

As part of a promotional campaign, Philips has developed the web application Obsessed with Sound where the visitor is immersed in the heart of an orchestra’s rehearsal. At any moment we can choose one of the musicians and focus your listening on their particular score, as well as browsing additional data about the performer.

We’ll end this first edition of 2012 as we mean to go on: with a fine example of WTF. Have you ever woken up in the morning humming the CAC40 song to yourself? No? Perhaps you’ve whistled the catchy melody of the Nasdaq in the shower? Still no? Well, here’s a little parting gift for you: this is the Dow Jones song, The Dow Piano.

Until next week then, and remember: “In Caffeine We Trust”.

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