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?)
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.
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.
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.
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?’”
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.
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.
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.
A limitation of word clouds is that while they’re great for showing the comparative popularity of words within a genre, they’re not so good for looking at the overall similarities or differences of several genres at once. To do that, you need some measure of similarity which can be rendered graphically as a kind of “genre neighbourhood map”. So I measured the similarities between the word lists for each genre, ranked by popularity, using a method which was developed to compare the result rankings from different search engines.