Archive for the ‘Data’ Category

Let’s get Semantic

February 18, 2008

Just spent a great couple of days at the SemanticCamp in Imperial College. Firstly a big shout out to Ashok Argent-Katwala and Tom Morris for organising the event, and for everyone else who came. Data is at the heart of most of the web ideas I have, particularly personal data. This event was fascinating in that it allowed me, a non-techie, to really see under the hood on the different technologies that are making these things possible.The RDF vs. Microformats debate carried on in various forms, with no real winner, but an acceptance that they are both useful tools which will, probably, converge. The eventual winner being the Semantic Web as a whole.I’ll be laying down some more thoughts later – shame I had to cancel a trip up to Scotland to go there. 


Data is fun

March 14, 2007

Exciting possibilities are opening up in the realm of data visualization. I’m keeping an eye on it particularly through through blogs like Datamining and Infosthetics. Data visualization has been around for a while and Charles Minard’s graph of the fate of the Napoleon’s army on the retreat from Moscow in 1812 is a good place to start.”The graph shows the size of the army by the width of the band across the map of the campaign on its outward and return legs, with temperature on the retreat shown on the line graph at the bottom. Many consider Minard’s original the best statistical graphic ever drawn.” (via Department of Maths York University)

It may not have AJAX, Flash or any rich media but is shows that data visualization is all about : telling a story.

GCensus lets you tells a whole bunch of stories by putting US Census data across Google Maps (down at the moment as Google maps upgrades).

Not Just A Number turns the (many) murders in Oakland from numbers into people, by placing the pictures of the dead on a map of the area. Mindy at Teaching Online Journalism explains the point : “A lot of people get killed there. The idea behind the package: These are people, not statistics. Many of them are not criminals, not drug dealers. Every one of them has a story, but these stories usually go untold in the news media.”

The Marumushi Newsmap is a great aggregation of Google News Data into a tree map. Stories are sorted into genres by colour, the brightness of the colour shows how new the story is. The great thing is that this data can be further cut by region. In short, semantic graphic design turns this data into a quick view of news in the world. (Read the about page to see how about pages shouldn’t be written.)

Wildcard is is an incredibly hypnotic flash art game – who’d have thought waving a ribbon would be so pretty? We should create an intelligent game that let you play with data in this way, bringing meaning as well as amusement.

Lovelines takes love and hate expressions from blogs (searching for “I love” and “I hate”) and then generates these into a good looking ui. A nice glimpse into humanity telling thousands of little stories.

See, data is fun. And today Jo is going to give me a tour of the EIU data fortress.

What should we do with Economist Group user data?

March 7, 2007

The Bush administration has accelerated its Internet surveillance push by proposing that Web sites must keep records of who uploads photographs or videos in case police determine the content is illegal and choose to investigate. — Declan McCullagh, CNET News. (via Danah at apophenia)

It would be really worrying if this development did come to pass as the last thing I’d want is the government to be nosing around my web. I mean I don’t have a Nectar card because I don’t like companies knowing too much about me. However, some of the most interesting things that are being done on the web rely on aggregating user behaviour.

StumbleUpon suggests the sites you’ll like, based on your previous preferences. tells you what music to listen as it knows what listeners like you liked.

The more we can learn from Economist Group users the better a service we can provide them because it facilitates discoverability. It also facilitates deliverability of targetted ads.

Where do we draw the line? I don’t know yet, but it will definitely have to get a lot of thought.