MIT-World: Visual Overviews for Cultural Heritage

From: Visual Overviews for Cultural Heritage: Interactive Exploration for Scholars in the Humanities, Arts, and Beyond

Ben Shneiderman

May 20, 2010
Running Time: 1:05:52

About the Lecture

A focus on designing technologies that allow the “visualization of things not visible” has been at the center of Ben Shneiderman’s work over the past two decades. He advocates the discovery of temporal patterns, relationships and clusters via an empowering user experience which enables discovery at a customizable pace and depth.

Shneiderman makes a clear distinction between high-resolution presentation (ala Edward Tufte) anddiscovery, which he defines as “the dynamics of interaction.” Noting that different patterns will be interesting to different people, he suggests that the capacity to quickly test out a viewpoint, to ask a large number of questions in a short amount of time…is an “enriching gift.”


Lost in the print world of old ?

OECD’s Statistics Newsletter of Juy 2010 brings a short article about On-line Data Dissemination Practices for Government and International Statistics.
San Cannon & Marc Rodriguez, Division of Research and Statistics,  of the Federal Reserve Board present the findings of their survey made in January 2010. They visited nearly 450 websites of  U.S. government agencies, national statistical organizations, central banks, and international institutions.
For each website visited, they looked for answers to 5 questions:
  1. Graphics: Any? Static or interactive? Interesting features (maps, etc)?
  2. Data presentation: HTML or spreadsheets for data tables or are there other formats?
  3. Download functionality: Predefined or customizable? Applications?
  4. Plain language» or descriptive sites to explain their statistics?
  5. Licensing info: Terms of use? License or copyright notice? Pricing?

Some of their findings:


‘The majority of sites that publish official statistics do not incorporate any graphical representation into their websites.’

Data Presentation

‘..  while HTML was the most popular format, PDFs were more prevalent than spreadsheets. We take this as evidence that many institutions have operations and attitudes that are still very much centred on the presentation of data on the printed page. ‘

‘It is interesting to note that PC-Axis is only used in the world of official statistics outside the United States: 10% of the NSO websites offer data in that format but not one U.S. agency does. … PC-Axis would seem to be an effective way for statistical agencies from different countries to pool their resources.’

Download Functionality

‘Again, it seems clear that institutions tend to present a defined set of information rather than allowing users to define their own.’


‘From this, admittedly cursory examination of the dissemination practices of providers of international statistics, it seems that the main approach still undertaken by the majority of statistical disseminators is to electronically replicate the print world of old. Many are taking baby steps, or in some cases giant leaps, toward the brave new world of Web 2.0 but they are still solidly in the minority.’

The complete article in The Statistics Newsletter.

Tim Berners-Lee: The year open data went worldwide

About this talk

At TED 2009  , Tim Berners-Lee called for “raw data now” — for governments, scientists and institutions to make their data openly available on the web. At TED University in 2010, he shows a few of the interesting results when the data gets linked up.

About Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. He leads the World Wide Web Consortium, overseeing the Web’s standards and development. Full bio and more links

Statistics for a changing world: Google Public Data Explorer in Labs

3/08/2010 08:25:00 AM from The Official Google Blog

Last year, we released a public data search feature that enables people to quickly find useful statistics in search. More recently, we expanded this service to include information from the World Bank, such as population data for every region in the world. More and more public agencies, non-profits and other organizations are looking for ways to open up their data and expand global access to this kind of information. We want to help keep that momentum going, so today we’re sharing a snapshot of some of the most popular public data search topics on Google. We’re also launching the Google Public Data Explorer, an experimental visualization tool in Google Labs.

Popular public data topics on Google
We know people want to be able to find reliable data and statistics on a variety of subjects. But what kind of statistics are they looking for most? To help us better prioritize which data sets to include in our public data search feature, we’ve analyzed anonymous search logs to find patterns in the kinds of searches people are doing, similar to the patterns you can find onGoogle Trends and Insights for Search. Some public data providers have asked us to share what we’ve learned, so we decided to put together an approximate list of the 80 most popular data and statistics search topics.

You can read the complete list at this link (PDF), but here’s the top 20 to get you started:

1. School comparisons
2. Unemployment
3. Population
4. Sales tax
5. Salaries
6. Exchange rates
7. Crime statistics
8. Health statistics (health conditions)
9. Disaster statistics
10. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
11. Last names
12. Poverty
13. Oil price
14. Minimum wage
15. Consumer price index, inflation
16. Mortality
17. Cost of living
18. Election results
19. First names
20. Accidents, traffic violations

You’ll notice some interesting entries in the list. For example, we were surprised by how many people search for data about popular first and last names. Perhaps people are trying to decide what to name a new baby boy or girl? As it turns out, people are interested in a wide range of statistical information.

To build the list, we looked at the aggregation of billions of queries people typed into Google search, using data from multiple sources, including Insights for Search, Google Trends and internal data tools — similar to what we do for our annual Zeitgeist. We combined search terms into groups, filtering out spam and repeats, to prepare a list reflecting the most popular public data topics. As a statistician, it’s important for me to note that the data only covers one week’s worth of searches in the U.S., so there could be seasonal and other confounding factors (perhaps there was an election that week). In addition, preparing a study like this requires a fair amount of manual grouping of similar queries into topics, which is fairly subjective and prone to human error. While imperfect, we still think the list is helpful to consider.

The Public Data Explorer
As you can see, people are interested in a wide variety of data and statistics, but this information is only useful if it’s easy to access, understand and communicate. That’s why today we’re also releasing the Google Public Data Explorer in Labs, a new experimental product designed to help people comprehend data and statistics through rich visualizations. With the Data Explorer, you can mash up data using line graphs, bar graphs, maps and bubble charts. The visualizations are dynamic, so you can watch them move over time, change topics, highlight different entries and change the scale. Once you have a chart ready, you can easily share it with friends or even embed it on your own website or blog. We’ve embedded the following chart using the new feature as an example:

This chart compares life expectancy and the number of births per woman over the last 47 years for most economies of the world. The bubble sizes show population, and colors represent different geographic regions. Press the play button to see the dramatic changes over time. Click “explore data” to dig deeper.

Animated charts can bring data to life. Click the play button in the chart to watch life expectancy increase while fertility rates fall around the world. The bubble colors make it quick and easy to see clusters of countries along these variables (e.g., in 1960 the European and Central Asian countries were in the lower right and Sub-Saharan Africa in the upper left). The bubble sizes help you follow the most populous countries, such as India and China. These charts are based on the Trendalyzer technology we acquired from the Gapminder Foundation, which we’ve previously made available in the Motion Chart in Google Spreadsheets and theVisualization API.

With a handful of data providers, there are already billions of possible charts to explore. We currently provide data from the same three providers currently available in our search feature: the World Bank, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, we’ve added five new data providers: the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the California Department of Education, Eurostat, the U.S. Center for Disease Control, and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. We’re excited that all around the world new data providers are deciding to make their information freely available on the Internet, enabling innovators to create interesting applications, mash up the data in new ways and discover profound meaning behind the numbers.

We hope our list and new tool help demonstrate both the public demand for more data and the potential for new applications to enlighten it. We want to hear from you, so please share your feedback in our discussion forum. If you’re a data provider interested in becoming a part of the Public Data Explorer, contact us.

Posted by Jürgen Schwärzler, Statistician, Public Data team

Hal Varian (Google) and Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly Media, Inc.), “Measurables”

Gov 2.0 Summit Videos (from Google Public Sector Blog)

Monday, September 14, 2009 | 11:45 AM

If you weren’t able to make the Gov 2.0 Summit last week in DC, you’re in luck – videos of most presentations are now online.

We’ll post an update when Ola Rosling’s presentation on public data search and visualization is online.

Tim O’Reilly interviewed Google’s Chief Economist Hal Varian about how government can take advantage of real time data and economic indicators.

Datablog – News –


Source: Friday 14 August 2009

A New View of Data.Gov

A New View of Data.Gov (from Google Public Policy Blog)

Friday, July 10, 2009 | 3:09 PM

On May 21, the Obama administration launched, a web site that provides access to raw data from federal government agencies. Access to this raw data is useful, but to unleash the power of the data, you need tools for visualizing it. Today, we’re going to show you how to use Google Fusion Tables to visualize and analyze data from Fusion Tables, which we launched in Google Labs in June, is a system for managing data in the cloud, combining powerful features of desktop database systems with easy-to-use collaboration tools. You can read more about it on the Google Research Blog.

Before we start with Fusion Tables, let’s find a data set from to use. Go to the Raw Data Catalog and enter some keywords to find data you’re interested in. I’m interested in recent earthquakes. Make sure you select the “CSV/Text” file type – we need data in that format to be able to load it into Fusion Tables.

Read more……..