wasting bandwidth since 1999

Tag: visualization

Visualizing Science

Science on a Sphere is a very cool room-sized system for animating planetary data on a giant globe. Like this view of the Earth with the oceans removed.

Ok, words and still pictures really don’t do it justice but some of us who visited James Madison University today for their Brainstorm 2014 Conference 1 got an in-depth backstage look at the system created by NOAA2 for museums, science centers, and universities.

Too bad the installation is so expensive and requires a lot of space (at JMU it’s set up in half of the gym from a former high school.); this would be a great way to illustrate all kinds of science concepts for students at all levels. And it sounds as if programming for it is something high school students could learn.

Side note: I asked our hostess if they ever got any pushback from kids in the school groups when illustrating the effects of global warming or the way the surface of the Earth has changed over millions of years (not 6000 as preached by some creative storytellers).

Interesting that she said they don’t get any arguments on either topic from the elementary kids but do have some university students who are climate change deniers. I just hope none of them expect to be reputable scientists when they graduate.

Reading Pictures

“A picture is worth a thousand words” goes the old saying.

If that’s the case, then an infographic like this one is far more valuable. (click to see it full size in a new window)

This is from the National Geographic Blog and clearly illustrates several factors in the debate over national health care in ways that pages of text never can.

Do we teach our students to interpret information in this form? More importantly, do we teach them how create a visualization of data similar to this one?

Or do we just teach them to read?

On the mathematical side of things, one thing the chart shows most effectively is that there is no direct correlation between amount of money spent per person for health care and at least one desirable effect: life span.

What else might students (and others) read in this picture?

A Snapshot of Your Online Identity… Maybe

I’m not sure what to think of this.

personas_smallThe graphic (click to see a full size version) was created by Personas, a project of the Sociable Media Group at the MIT Media lab and which according to their web site, creates a “data portrait of one’s aggregated online identity.  In short Personas shows you how the Internet sees you”.

Interesting, since in almost seven years of ranting in this space, I don’t remember writing much if anything about sports, fashion, or religion.  (Of course, there’s always the possibility that my name isn’t as unique as I’m assuming it is. :-)

Another factor that gives me doubts about the accuracy of this particular portrait is that in repeating the process, the sports stayed but the fashion and religion vanished, even though it seemed to be analyzing the same sources each time.

Anyway, it’s still fascinating to watch the visualization being built and, as the developers refine the underlying algorithm, this could be a wonderful tool to use with students (or adults) to get a snapshot of themselves online.

And as a starting point for a discussion of how it got there.

[Thanks to Karen for the link.]

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