How frequently do things happen? Quite frequently, possibly

Monday, 24 February, 2014

How often, on average, does something, being just about anything you care to think of, happen? Quite possibly, quite frequently, could be the answer.

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A global population of 100 people would say a lot about the world

Tuesday, 2 April, 2013

If the planet were populated by just one hundred people, how differently we might see it? Some of the data presented by such a world is sobering to say the least, considering the numbers represent percentages. For instance:

  • 23 people have no shelter
  • seven people have a college/university degree
  • 13 people don’t have access to safe drinking water
  • 22 people have access to a computer (seems like a lot more though doesn’t it?)

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You’ll never call the web slow after you see the speed it works at

Wednesday, 11 July, 2012

A three minute video sets out the process of looking up a webpage from a browser, a process that generally takes about one second. Blink and you’ll miss all the action.

And never again (hmm) shall I complain about slow loading websites.

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How many people are you likely to be sharing your birthday with?

Monday, 21 May, 2012

While based on US data giving it a northern hemisphere skew, those of us south of the equator can still get an idea of how common, or otherwise, our birthdays are with Matt Stiles’ birthday heatmap data visualisation.

Why would such data vary north or south of the equator? According to the information used to create this heatmap, a lot of babies are conceived during winter months, theoretically making birthdays more common during the late summer and autumn months in this part of the world.

It also brings to mind something former triple j presenter Adam Spencer (now on 702 ABC Sydney), also a mathematician, used to say, “in a group of seven people it is more likely than not that two of them have a birthday within a week of each other”, or words to that effect anyway.

Another one for the datasexuals, no?

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Making data visualisations, not love, that’s a datasexual for you

Thursday, 17 May, 2012

The metrosexual’s digital equivalent, the datasexual, is quietly, yet surely, making their presence among us known. If you have a penchant for recording, and I imagine, publishing, all manner of personal data, you may even be one yourself, especially if infographics, data visualisations, and the annual – always a joy to peruse – Feltron Reports, float your boat.

The origin of the datasexual in all likelihood started with the humble infographic, which is a highly stylized and well-designed way to talk about all the data out there on Web. The infographic trend was followed by the data visualization trend, which made it even cooler to display data in innovative new ways. These data visualization tools eventually gave us cultural artifacts like Nicholas Felton’s annual Feltron Reports, which made the obsessive recording of everyday activities seem cool.

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If tape is making a come back then cassettes can’t be far behind

Monday, 2 April, 2012

Possibly there won’t be much of a cassette revival, but digital tape may enjoy a resurgence in the IT room as it (still) makes for a surprisingly efficient data storage format.

At 60, in many ways, it’s just getting started. That’s because, unlike the mainframe, tape’s role in the enterprise is dramatically changing. Only a few years ago, with the emergence of cheap, high-capacity disk drives, many pundits thought tape would be relegated to the dusty storerooms of long-term data archive. Gone were the days when tape was used for primary backup and recovery or streaming media. But, with the performance of next-generation tape drives hitting 525MB/sec – and at a price of around $25 per terabyte of capacity – tape is too fast and too cheap to write off. New open file formats are also making it possible to use tape in new markets.

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Some people wanna fill the world with even more infographics

Monday, 19 March, 2012

I’ve posted my share of links to infographics over the years, but just as I’m beginning to detect an unmistakeable apathy – even resentment – towards them, along comes an app that will allow anyone, designer or not, to create them.

“We hear a huge influx of people saying, ‘How can I get someone to help me create an infographic or a dashboard or an interactive visualization?’” Langille says. “People can’t afford it: It’s $5,000 to $7,000 for a graphic, and prices are going up. But now, if you want data-viz, you don’t have to start by wondering, ‘Where am I going to get the data? And where can I find a designer?’”

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Said you’ve give us signal but you never told us about the noise

Friday, 17 February, 2012

Along with electronic publishing, Arthur C. Clarke also foresaw – in the early 1960s – the by product of large quantities of ready available data, information overload. Sadly though he could not contrive of an effective method of dealing with this excess of data.

How mankind will cope with the avalanche of information and entertainment about to descend upon it from the skies, only the future can show. Once again science, with its usual cheerful irresponsibility, has left another squalling infant on civilization’s doorstep.

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Despite its volume the internet’s content makes for light reading

Monday, 7 November, 2011

If there are five million terabytes of data, being videos, pictures, information, etc, etc, stored on the internet’s approximately one hundred million servers, then the total weight of that data is about the same as a reasonably sizeable strawberry.

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Imagine if news stories were made up of social media posts

Wednesday, 27 July, 2011

The Epiphanator… the sum of all our blog posts, tweets, plus Facebook and Google+ wall posts…

Social media has no understanding of anything aside from the connections between individuals and the ceaseless flow of time: No beginnings, and no endings. These disparate threads of human existence alternately fascinate and horrify that part of the media world that grew up on topic sentences and strong conclusions. This world of old media is like a giant steampunk machine that organizes time into stories. I call it the Epiphanator, and it has always known the value of a meaningful conclusion. The Epiphanator sits in midtown Manhattan and clunks along, at Condé Nast and at the Times and in Rockefeller Center. Once a day it makes a terrible grinding noise and spits out newspapers and TV shows. Once a week it spits out weeklies and more TV shows. Once a month it produces glossy magazines. All too often it makes movies, and novels.

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