Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spotted: A Space-Filling Visualization Technique for Multivariate Small-World Graphs

A new space filling graph visualization technique. 

We introduce an information visualization technique, known as GreenCurve, for large multivariate sparse graphs that exhibit small-world properties. Our fractal-based design approach uses spatial cues to approximate the node connections and thus eliminates the links between the nodes in the visualization. The paper describes a robust algorithm to order the neighboring nodes of a large sparse graph by solving the Fiedler vector of its graph Laplacian, and then fold the graph nodes into a space-filling fractal curve based on the Fiedler vector. The result is a highly compact visualization that gives a succinct overview of the graph with guaranteed visibility of every graph node. GreenCurve is designed with the power grid infrastructure in mind. It is intended for use in conjunction with other visualization techniques to support electric power grid operations. The research and development of GreenCurve was conducted in collaboration with domain experts who understand the challenges and possibilities intrinsic to the power grid infrastructure. The paper reports a case study on applying GreenCurve to a power grid problem and presents a usability study to evaluate the design claims that we set forth.
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Data: CPU DB: Recording Microprocessor History

Go all nerdy about nerdy stuff. Visualize cpus. 

ACM Queue
With this open database, you can mine microprocessor trends over the past 40 years.

Find: is live

Watercolor maps! Stamen strikes again. Sweet. 

Check out Raleigh, or <your city>. This isn't a one off, but a working site. is live, the second installment of the City Tracking project funded by the Knight News Challenge, is live. These unique cartographic styles and tiles, based on data from Open Street Map, are available for the entire world, downloadable for use under a under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, and free.

*takes deep breath*

There are three styles available: toner, terrain, and watercolor:

  • Toner is about stripping online cartography down to its absolute essentials. It uses just black and white, describing a baseline that other kinds of data can be layered on. Stripping out any kind of color or image makes it easier to like focus on the interactive nature of online cartography: when do different labels show up for different cities? what should the thickness of freeways be at different zoom levels? and so forth. This project is the one that Nathaniel is hacking on at all hours, and it's great to be seeing Natural Earth data get more tightly integrated into the project over time.

  • Terrain occupies a middle ground: "shaded hills, nice big text, and green where it belongs." In keeping with City Tracking's mandate to make it easier for people to tell stories about cities, this is an open-source alternative to Google's terrain maps, and it uses all open-source software like Skeletron to improve on the base line cartographic experience. Mike has been heading up this design, with help from Gem Spear and Nelson Minar.
  • Watercolor pushes through to the other side of normal, bending the rules of traditional legibility in order to explore some new terrain. It incorporates hand-painted textures and algorithmic rule sets into a design that looks like it's been done by 10,000 slaves in the basement, but is rendered on th...
  • Viz: Wind Map

    Daring Fireball

    Beautiful and fascinating.

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    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Data: 1940 US Census becoming fully searchable online through volunteer effort

    The Verge - All Posts
    1940 census | Wikipedia public domain

    Today the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released images of the 1940 Census, and a project is already underway to ensure that the information becomes easily available to anyone who wants to know a bit more about the Great Depression. The NARA has teamed up with leading genealogy groups like and to create what's being described as a "high quality, searchable database" of the more than one million pages contained in the Census. You can already browse through the Census images, but the process is cumbersome — for instance, you can't search by a person's name, but instead can only browse by location or enumeration district.

    But with a team of online volunteers, the 1940 US Census Community...

    Find: Ambient Devices CEO Pritesh Gandhi on 'glanceable' data

    On information that is simple and elegant. 

    The Verge - All Posts
    Pritesh Gandhi

    We're perpetually bombarded with information, 24 hours a day. That's just our connected reality now, and there's very little hope of escaping it. On Valentine's Day, I penned an editorial on how I believe that the secret to distilling this information — the key to preventing humans from collapsing under the ever-growing weight of this data — has been right under our noses for years.

    They're called "glanceable" devices, and Massachusetts-based Ambient Devices has been developing them for over a decade. The company spun out of a project at MIT's famed Media Lab with the goal of integrating data points into our lives in a natural, organic way. Ambient's path to building a real business has been an unusual one, producing oddities...

    Monday, April 2, 2012

    Tool: Chrome 18 arrives with hardware-accelerated Canvas

    Webapps getting faster...

    Ars Technica

    Version 18 of the Chrome Web browser has rolled out to the stable channel. The new version includes hardware-accelerated rendering for the HTML5 Canvas element on Windows and Mac OS X.

    As we have recently reported, standards-based Web technologies provide an increasingly capable platform for game development. The major browser vendors are working to further increase the viability of open standards for browser-based gaming. Offloading Canvas rendering to the GPU helps reduce the CPU load of 2D games and improves performance. The feature has been available in Chrome for quite some time, but it's now finally enabled by default.

    Hardware-accelerated Canvas rendering is only available on systems with compatible graphics hardware. You can get some information about what features in Chrome have hardware acceleration enabled on your system by navigating to the "chrome://gpu" URL.

    Another key open standard that is relevant for gaming is WebGL, which provides JavaScript APIs for rendering 3D content in the Canvas element. In Chrome 18, Google has introduced a software-based backend for WebGL based on TransGaming's SwiftShader. This will make it possible for users to view WebGL content on computers that don't have compatible graphics hardware. Although it will open up WebGL content to more users, the software-based renderer doesn't offer comparable performance to native hardware-accelerated WebGL.

    In addition to these improvements, the Chrome developers have also been working to make various security improvements based on vulnerabilities that were exposed during the Pwnium competition. For more details about the Chrome 18 release, you can refer to the official release announcement. The software is available for download from Google's website.