Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Project: The Olympic Games Unraveled

Team Members: Leonel Galan, Sulay Shah, Sagar Natekar and Kanak Lagu

Olympic games medal data is one of the best suited data sets for a visualization project. The information about countries, game venues, olympic sports, medals won, athletes, right since the first Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 interested us. The early prototypes and sketches as we started brainstorming are given in adjoining figure. This was just an initial thought of how we could proceed. The next important step was to extract the data and get in a format which could be easily read by Javascript. Since the data source we found was a set of HTML pages, we wrote a content scraper in Ruby-on-Rails that iteratively inspected elements in the HTML page and output was given in the form of a simple, convenient JSON file.

As we studied the data, started building  visualizations, got feedback from the class presentations, we finally arrived at four interactive visualizations. The performance of all countries over time is represented with an area chart with the option of clicking on each series to view details. Another graph is for performance of a country in the Summer and Winter Olympic games. We also have a stacked bar graph for the detailed performance of one country in a year. A drill-down feature is available to see details within an event that pops up as a modal box to preserve context. An interesting pie chart is also presented which gives the medal share of one sport over the years which helps us gauge the importance and popularity of a sport. A very flexible and comprehensively documented charting library - HighCharts 2.9.1 along with Raphael, a graphic library was used to build the visualizations. As we were already using GitHub for version control, we hosted the website on GitPages which turned out to be quite convenient. We have also tried to make the website interesting by adding logos of all Olympic games, information about future summer and winter Olympics and a very short bio of the team members in the customary 'About Us' page.

Though this is our project for this semester, more work will definitely go a long way in taking it a few steps closer to a good visualization project. Given more time, we would have loved to incorporate an interactive timeline, giving important events, world records, famous athletes by allowing the user to select a time range. A more catchy first page - with an interesting and representative graph, according to the feedback we received on the final presentation day. Do go through our project, fork us on GitHub and see if you learn something new about the Olympics!!

'The Olympic Games Unraveled', at a glance:

A special thank you to Dr.Watson for a wonderful course and his guidance throughout the project. We would also like to thank Clayton Coleman from IBM, Bill Houghteling from OTT, Springboard and Prof. Patrick Fitzgerald from the College of Design for their valuable comments and guidance.