Wow. I’m loving Google more and more every day. It seems like they have a free service for just about anything you can imagine. Although I’ve heard about Google Fusion Tables before, I hadn’t really looked into it – until today.
First, I mapped a couple addresses and did simple things like change the color of the markers. Then, I went through this handy tutorial, which showed how to merge tables with publicly available data to create more powerful maps with polygons colored based on selected variables.
By the end of the day, I created a map of all the school districts in California. Next step, add metadata like district API scores.
I knew I was onto something when I got into data. As this article by Simon Rogers points out, data journalism is the new punk. Anyone can learn it, thanks to free tutorials, references, and tools online, and create compelling data visualizations right in their bedroom. As Dan Sinker, a former editor for Punk Planet, says in the article:
“Where I think there are more parallels are in the fact that this is a young community (in years if not always age), and one that’s actively teaching itself new tricks every day. That same vitality and excitement that motivated punk, it’s motivating news hackers right now.”
Most infographics smell too much of marketing and are so unimaginative with their visualizations that I’ve grown to ignore them. But this one called What Are the Odds? on Visual.ly was intriguing enough to get me to read the fine print to figure it out, and when I did, it was fascinating: the odds of my, or anyone’s, existence is near zero. Each of us is a miracle.
The biggest beneficiaries of big data would seem to be retail giants, like Amazon and Walmart. But according to a 2012 study by Gartner, the hottest industries for big data are banking, communications, government, and manufacturing. For details, check out this insightful (but ugly) infographic created with Tableau.
Last week’s map visualizations wowed me, but today’s Infographic of the Day from Fast Company blew my mind. Basically, what the project’s author, Santiago Cruz, did was create an interactive map of relationships between Twitter employees based on their public tweets. This massive and incredible work of data art wasn’t paid for and is merely Cruz’s sample work for his visualization freelancing business.
Ok, I misspoke, in a way. The U.S. economy, as seen by large corporations and financial institutions, is growing at an exponential rate, thanks to “increased productivity“. That same $15 trillion-dollar economy, from the eyes of the millions of unemployed, is shrinking to a distant memory – a time when they could afford groceries without food stamps, a time when they could afford to take vacations.
Reports from the labor department and employment firms like ADP show that new jobs are being created, but as the blog Calculated Risk points out, it’s not enough. Actually, far from it. Accounting for population growth, we need millions more new jobs.
You would think that based on my posts that the world of serious data visualization (which excludes cutesy infographics) is all about mapping metadata. Here’s yet another example that this might really be the trend: Like the Average Commute Times project, Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks uses public data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey to map median household incomes per census tract. Thanks to this simple tool, it’ll be a lot easier to convince my wife to get a job when she sees that we make less than our neighbors.