Visualization as I see it.

Category Archives: social networks vs. launched recently with a great deal of fanfare.  As the promotional video below explains, was “built to showcase great visualizations” and “is a community for exploring, sharing, creating and promoting great visualizations”. has partnered with several organisations, such as National Geographic, Good Magazine, JESS3 and Column Five Media, who routinely produce high quality infographics and visualizations.  So, at launch had a couple of thousand visualizations in its showcase.  As you’d expect provides all the tools you’d expect of a community web-site; you can comment on, like, share and embed any of the visualizations hosted by

However, is not new.  A similar web-site has been in existence for a year or more:  Many of the visualizations hosted by have also been posted on  Although, has been around longer its collection of visualizations is smaller (about 500 by my reckoning).  You can also rate, embed and share visualizations hosted by  A nice feature of is that its visualizations are made available under a Creative Commons license.

Where is streets ahead of is their recently announced Visualizing Player, which is used to embed visualizations hosted by  It supports HTML5, Java, Flash, PDF, video and image formats, which means that dynamic, interactive visualizations can be deployed using the player.  Currently, offers only static images.  This is perhaps why is dominated by static infographics, whereas hosts a much broader range of visualizations. is planning to offer on-line tools for creating visualizations.  The tools are currently under development but Robert Kosara (who is an advisor to was shown a demo and was suitably impressed.  I’ve signed up to be notified when the tools become available, so watch this space…


Tweets During the Japanese Earthquake

Twitter has just published a couple of videos that visualize the flow of tweets before and after the March 2011 earthquake.

The first video shows @reply tweets in the hour preceding and following the earthquake, to (pink) and from (yellow) Japanese Twitter accounts.  You can clearly see the sudden jump in the volume of tweets following the earthquake.


The second video shows tweets originating in Japan (red) and then being retweeted (green) around the globe in the hour following the earthquake.

Twitter reports that the volume of tweets spiked to 5000 tweets per second five times in the hours following the earthquake and tsunami.  A vivid example of Twitter’s reach as a global communications tool.

Social Map: Placebook

I recently came across Social Map: Placebook, the 2010 winner of the NACIS: Student Web Mapping Competition.  The stated aim of Placebook is:

to give [a] more accurate idea on how are Facebook users [are] distributed around the world.

It’s an excellent application.  I found that the most powerful feature of Placebook was not the map but rather the additional graphics used to visualize social data.  You can choose to explore:

  • absolute counts of the number of users per country,
  • the proportion of users in each country with Facebook accounts, and
  • (structure) the distribution of Facebook users by age-group in each country.

Placebook includes controls for focusing on regions (World, Europe, North Americas, South Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania).  You can also sort the data to find interesting artefacts.  For example, I discovered that in Serbia & Montenegra a striking 77% of under-18 year olds have Facebook accounts; a significant outlier (Albania is a distant second at 30%).  The data was obtained in August 2010 using the “impact estimator” of Facebook’s advertising interface.

You can also login to your own Facebook account to visualize the demographics of your own social network.  However, I chose not to as it gives Placebook access to your personal information and that of your friends.

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