Category Archives: visualization

“A charmingly normal distribution:” Adventures with mystery data

A friend who tends to do very interesting (and often confidential) research about media just sent me this lovely diagram. Of what, you ask? Your guess is as good as mine.

Said friend writes: “That’s a charmingly normal distribution… I love it when, every now and then, data turns out exactly like you want it to… I actually know what’s going on in the data, and what X and Y represent… I just can’t talk about it.”

I’m intrigued.

Playing with Wordle

Wordle has been making the rounds lately but I’ve just gotten in to mess around with it — and it’s fabulous.

Here is a Wordle rendering of all of my tags:

Wordle rendering of my tags

Sure, it’s just a tag cloud. But, because the final layout is so well done and the creation interface is so thoughtfully put together, the data can be manipulated and understood in a way that wouldn’t be possible with traditional tag clouds.

on #themeword

One of the highlights of LifeCamp was the discussion about theme words and what our theme word for 2008 would be. (Mine was “create.”) Chris Messina posted his to twitter, and thus a meme was born. See Chris’s recounting: Kicking off 2008 with a themeword

I wondered if there were any interesting patterns in the #themewords, so did a quick tweetscan search for themeword hashtags, scraped the data, and dumped it into Excel (with some nominal de-duping). I noticed that there were only a few words that were used by multiple people, but that the overall tone was amazingly positive.

I thought this would look interesting as a tag cloud (an overused visualization technique, yes, but still sometimes useful) so looked for and found a nice way to create an on-the-fly tag cloud at The tagcrowd CSS got mangled by the WordPress template CSS, so I did a screen capture and posted the image to flickr.

#themeword tag cloud

Beautiful, eh? Here’s to a happy 2008!