Tobias Gremmler created this magnificent visualization of motion data he captured of a person practicing Kung Fu.
Today we travel to a future full of spreadsheet approved lives. A future where everything we do is tracked and quantified: calories, air quality, sleep, heart rate, microbes, brain waves, finances, happiness, sadness, menstrual cycles, poops, hopes and dreams. Everything.
This episode is longer than our usual 20 minute jaunts to the future, because the future of quantified self is so huge. We cover everything from biased algorithms, to microbiomes (again), to the future of the calorie, and more.
Nathan Yau created an interactive visualization of Consumer Product Safety Commission data on emergency room visits spurred by product-related injuries. At the top are floor and stair injuries followed by various sports and bed injuries.
At the dawn of the 19th century, naturalist Alexander von Humboldt invented the "thematic map," pioneering infographics through the likes of maps annotated with zoological life, temperature, elevations, and other data meant to present an area's "physical phenomena into one image," according to this profile on Atlas Obscura.
Above, "a plate from Atlas of Alexander von Humboldt's Kosmos, illustrating the composition of the Earth's crust via color-coding."
Below, "a snowflake of clocks illustrates world time zones, with Dresden at the center. "
As Chicago's mayor/kingmaker/kingpin Rahm Emanuel grins at the chorus demanding his resignation for his role in covering up video showing that Chicago PD officers shot a man 16 times, lied about it, and confiscated and destroyed all the evidence they could find, the Five Thirty-Eight blog looks at the data on Chicago's dirtiest cops. Read the rest
No one's sure how the story of suicides increasing during holiday season got started (some researchers think it may have come from It's a Wonderful Life!), but it's not true. Read the rest
A new Pew report analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors finds that America's middle class has shrunk to the smallest share of the US population for the first time in four decades; while the share of national wealth owned by the middle class has dwindled and the share of wealth controlled by the rich has grown. The number of poor Americans has also grown, as middle class families slip into poverty. Read the rest
The lede and various details in The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares, an article at the New York Times, are rewritten automatically based upon the reader's location.
It's not overly clever. Simple, compelling details are used to frame and contextualize a dry, fact-driven story, and it works very well.
News reports generated by computers from raw data are not new, but they tend to be obvious and a bit daft, like the ersatz commentary in sports video games. This Times piece is a high-quality example of code with an appropriate editorial voice. It needs careful planning and restraint and can't just be glued together from journalistic clichés and data.
(Redditors, however, have managed to trick it into writing some rather daft phrases.)
This 1928 London Underground ad is a beautiful and witty example of using data to help people get the best use out of public services. By listing the tube's load at different times of the day, LU helped riders figure out how to avoid crushes, and by making the descriptions funny and insightful, the poster's creators created memorable hooks for putting the info in context. Read the rest
My handbag was stolen two months ago. It happened in seconds in a mall in Turin, Italy. I never saw the thief, and neither did my husband, sitting two meters from the scene of the crime a fast food Japanese restaurant.
How is such criminal skill even possible? There was almost nobody around. Now, after two months, I do vaguely remember though a nice young woman, sitting with a child, next to my table. Was it she who grabbed my bag off the back of a chair and escaped with it?
A week later, I read that a gang of four women, convicted of serial handbag thefts in Italy, was finally put behind the bars. Even though found guilty several times, they were always released from custody because they had either small children or were pregnant. So maybe they relied on the handbags of other women to feed their numerous children?!
But that would be a topic for a novel, and not what I want to write about. I will focus on this accident from a different angle. Because it can only be compared to an accident, a personal disaster, as if a truck ran over me. No use asking, was it my fault? Should I blame myself for leaving my chair to order a second beer to go with my sushi? And why on earth did I center my earthly life inside one rather small handbag? Why did I visit a shopping mall taking with me all of my traveling documents, credit cards, checkbook, USB backup, health insurance card, Iphone, address book, prescriptions, etc. Read the rest
When Facebook offered a "rainbow filter" for images, following last week's landmark Supreme Court decision in favor of gay marriage, people joked that it was probably another creepy social experiment. Well, probably, yes.
Even seemingly small online actions—clicking the “like” button, changing one’s profile photo—are being tracked and analyzed. Just like McAdam’s research on Freedom Summer shapes our understanding of support for marriage equality, Facebook's past research on marriage equality has helped answer a question we all face when deciding to act politically:
Does the courage to visibly—if virtually—stand up for what a person believes in have an effect on that person’s social network, or is it just cheap, harmless posturing? Perhaps the rainbow colors across Facebook will become part of the answer.