For Example
by Mike Bostock: a visual essay on the power of examples for teaching, enabling and inspiring
visualization  to-share 
june 2013
The Data Journalism Handbook
Free web version (via @curiousoctopus)
book  data  journalism  to-share 
september 2012
San Francisco and Bay Area Design firms | palojono
Nice list curated by my former colleague at Berkeley Innovation
design  jobs  lists  to-share 
august 2012
The Slow Web – Jack Cheng
"Timely not real-time. Rhythm not random. Moderation not excess. Knowledge not information. These are a few of the many characteristics of the Slow Web."
internet  articles  to-share 
june 2012
Thought leaders discuss online communities, startups, and public policy.
to-share  collaboration  issues 
november 2011
Slow Breaking News | The Sketchy Pixel
Fun masters project juxtaposing breaking news and a slow medium.
to-share  breakingnews  art 
october 2011
Can We Ever Digitally Organize Our Friends?
When Google+ launched last week, one of the most discussed features was Circles. In case you haven’t read a single blog, Tweet, or Google+ post in the last week (and yet, somehow stumbled into this dark corner of the internet), Circles is Google’s way of allowing you to group people. You can put anyone into a one or more Circles such as “Friends”, “Acquaintances”, “Co-workers”, “People I Eat Brunch With”, “Cyclists”, etc. And you have to put a person in at least one group.

@rodbegbie‘s Circles

Many discussions have ensued about how people are organizing their Circles. Many have also praised Google’s elegant and unique implementation as a clear answer to Paul Adam’s research entitled “The Real Life Social Network“.

I’ve been thinking about grouping and organization of friends for a long time. As an information architect, it’s in my nature to want to organize and tag everyone I know. I even wrote a post in 2004 about the organization of my instant messaging list. In thinking about this for a little while, I’ve decided to try to document my thinking so far on Google Circles, as well as the larger context of digitally grouping people.

Why We Need Groups
I’ve noticed from reading a number of articles about Groups, Circles, Lists, etc. is the variety of use cases and needs. We see so many implementations because there are many needs. There are different use cases for publishers and consumers, public and private, symmetrical and asymmetrical. Before I talk about the challenges I think Google Circles, and any similar feature faces, let’s look at some problems grouping attempts to solve.

One reason for needing groups is because you’re only comfortable with certain people seeing what you’re talking about. For example, you may only want to share baby photos with family. Flickr’s Friends and Family settings are very much targeted for this use case.

Interest Context
Subtly different from privacy, you feel only these people need to know about what you’re talking about. An example might be asking for advice on what tires to buy from your car enthusiast friends. You don’t necessarily care that it’s public, you just want to make sure the right people read it. Currently, communities around interests is largely solved by services such as Yahoo!, Facebook, and Google Groups.

Local Context
Posts that are specific to your location such as “what’s going on tonight?” or “Anyone have tickets to the concert tonight?” should be targeted to friends within that geographic area.

Event Context
Similar to local context, when you’re at an event (e.g., Coachella music festival), you may want to communicate and publish only to your friends who are also at the event. Group messaging tools such as GroupMe and Beluga—and now Google’s Huddle—attempt to solve for this use case. Not surprisingly, all of these solutions are mobile-centric.

Organizational Context
Your college friends don’t know your ex-coworkers don’t know your softball team. Maybe you want to share a link about your alma mater or one on how your former company just changed CEOs.
Not Spamming Everyone
A corollary to the contexts is that one may not only want to publish a post to a specific audience, but may also feel self-conscious about spamming others with what’s deemed irrelevant material.

Targeted Consumption: Reading From a Specific Group
For any of the contexts above, you may also want to consume based on a grouping. Perhaps you wish to view only messages from friends also at Coachella. Or you want to read the latest tech news from the technology journalists and authors you follow. Twitter Lists is an example of a way to address such a use case.

What Google Circles Does Right
Anything that’s created this much discussion and buzz is clearly doing something right. While I think there are some challenges for Circles, they’ve done many things that I think are positive, innovative, or at least interesting.

Unlike Twitter Lists or Facebook’s Friend Lists (did you know you could organize Facebook friends into lists?), everyone in Google+ has to be in a Circle. This is a bold move and puts organization as the focus of the entire product. While forcing grouping may seem like a higher barrier to entry, their interface makes it as easy as adding a friend on other sites.

The Circle Interface
Circles is a delightful experience. It makes you want to add people just for the fun of it. I do feel the drag n’ drop interface is one that’s more suited for touch interfaces and may be too much effort for large collections of people. However, adding people to circles through their Suggestions is a cinch. If you haven’t tried deleting a Circle yet, you should. Delightful.

The Sharing Interface
Although not unique, the sharing interface is simple. I can easily type in the Circles I want to share a post with and it’s clear from looking at any post which Circle I shared it with. One caveat is that the Extended Circles option is a pretty confusing one, even for those of us immersed in this world.

Auto-Suggest Circle Members
In one of the first Circles I created, after adding only three people, Google started suggesting others to add and every single suggestion was correct. This made creating that Circle much easier. Unfortunately, none of the other Circles I created had suggestions. I suspect they are generated from the Google Group the members are a part of.

One Way Circles
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure some people I think are my friends don’t think the same of me. Likewise, that guy who calls me his “buddy” doesn’t need to know that I put him in the “Acquaintance” Circle.

Why Grouping Sucks
When I first started using Google+, I had a sense of déjà vu as I categorized my friends. I’d done this before… on Flickr, on Facebook, on Twitter, on my instant messenger contact list, and in my address book. Shortly thereafter, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth the effort to rigorously group everyone. Then I started thinking about whether it was ever worth the effort to do so. Because as much as one tries to emulate the real life social network and address Paul Adam’s research, there are some human subtleties we’re missing in the digital world.

The Soft Line
Have you ever had a Facebook or LinkedIn friend request where you weren’t sure whether to accept or not? There’s a soft line that separates a friend and an acquaintance.

It’s true that you can probably label everyone you met through an organization (school, work, etc.) but the boundaries quickly become blurred. Let’s say you met someone through your classmate but she’s not in your school. Does she belong in the school group? What about the person who sometimes hangs out with your group of friends? Or the guy you met dozens of times but only at parties?

We’re incredibly adept at knowing the right situations to include the right people. They’re not black or white rules and depend heavily on context: is it a party, who else is there, do they know any of the other people, have you talked recently, etc. Unfortunately, this skill and these implicit social rules we know are not easily translated.

I have a very close friend, Mike. We used to share an office together back in 2000. We talked about everything, went on trips, and hung out nearly daily. Today, I see him on average once every two months. We still share our thoughts and are there for each other for support, but life got in the way and our relationship is different now.

Sociologist Gerald Molenhorst has shown that we change half of our social network every seven years but there isn’t a Changing of the Guard ceremony here. It’s not entirely clear at what point Mike moved from one group to another.

Thus, maintaining digital groups has two problems. First, you don’t know when to move someone from one group to another because transitions happen gradually. Second, it’s simply a lot of effort to maintain. How often would you update the entire list? And if it’s not updated, how useful are the groupings, really?

I think I could run an open card sort for myself and probably come up with some good categorizations for my friends. However, once I’ve created these fancy Circles, will I actually remember who will see a given post? From my experience organizing my Facebook and address book, I’ve found that I don’t remember the complex taxonomies I dream up. In fact, I don’t know that I can list every person that’s in my “Family” group in Flickr even though it’s less than twenty.

When compounded with the high overhead of maintenance and likely outdated groups over time, it’s even less likely that I’ll know who I’m actually sharing a post with.

One use case where recall isn’t a concern is in consumption. If you’ve created a “Celebrities” group to read their content, it doesn’t matter if you don’t remember every individual in the group.

Can It Be Done?
The maintenance required for grouping our friends is too high and too vague. We simply don’t have the rules as clearly defined as programs require and even if we did, the parameters change. Your personal tastes change. The influential people change. Even your friends change. Keeping the groups accurate and remembering its members is a challenge.

The obvious question to ask is: what about automation? Google Buzz attempted to automatically determine social ties based on who you frequently emailed. That solution lead to disastrous results, linking a woman closely to her ex-husband.

However, Buzz’s nascent attempts and failures do not necessarily mean automation is untenable. If you’ve seen LinkedIn Labs’ InMaps, you’ll know that your network is simultaneously clustered and complex. You can almost make out the groupings but there are many nodes that overlap multiple categories or aren’t easily categorized at all.

A new app that launched last week, Katango, seems to be a technology demo of… [more]
Design  Technology  from google
july 2011
Map of scientific collaboration between researchers
In the spirit of the well-circulated Facebook friendship map by Paul Butler, research analyst Olivier Beauchesne at Science-Metrix examines scientific collaboration around the world from 2005 to 2009:

I was very impressed by the friendship map made by Facebook intern, Paul Buffer [sp] and I realized that I had access to a similar dataset. Instead of a database of friendship data, I had access to a database of scientific collaboration.

From an extensive database of academic citations:

I extracted and aggregated scientific collaboration between cities all over the world. For example, if a UCLA researcher published a paper with a colleague at the University of Tokyo, this would create an instance of collaboration between Los Angeles and Tokyo.

After that, Beauchesne used a similar mapping scheme that Butler used, and behold the results above. The brighter the lines, the more collaborations between a pair of universities.

There doesn't seem to be much going on in places outside of the United States and Europe, but I wonder if that's because of a limited dataset or really because there's little collaboration in those areas. I suspect the former. Still very cool though.

Here's the collaboration going on in Europe:

And here it is zoomed in on the United States:

Check out the high-resolution version here.

[Olivier H. Beauchesne]

Facebook worldwide friendships mapped
Map of where toursists flock
Google Decides to Host a Whole Lot of Scientific Data – Palimpsest Project
Mapping  collaboration  facebook  network  science  from google
january 2011
Ben Fry's new portfolio
visualization  to-share 
july 2010
Foundations and Trends in Human-Computer Interaction
Excited to read some upcoming issues (vis, mobile, gestures...)!
hci  research  journal  to-share 
june 2010
What Do You Suggest? Exploring the Collective Lives of Google Users
What Do You Suggest? [whatdoyousuggest.net] is a fun, interactive visual guide on a journey through the 'suggested' collective lives of millions of Google users.

The suggested words appear in the order in which Google suggests them. Each word is connected by a line of varying thickness representing the relative number of search results for a given Google search on the phrases which that word.

The suggestions provided by Google Suggest represent real searches which in all likelihood have been performed millions of times each by people from all around the world.

More detailed information is available on the author's blog.

See also the Joy of Revelation, which is based on the same data.

Thnkx Michael!
interface  from google
march 2010
Where Bars Trump Grocery Stores
FloatingSheep, a fun geography blog, looks at the beer belly of America. One maps shows total number of bars, but the interesting map is the one above. Red dots represent locations where there are more bars than grocery stores, based on results from the Google Maps API. The Midwest takes their drinking seriously.

Of course there are plenty of possible explanations for the distribution. Maybe people get all their food from superstores like Walmart in the red dot areas, so there are fewer gigantic stores than there are small local bars.

Then again, the FloatingSheep guys did their homework and found, according to Census, that the number of drinking places in those red dots are really skewed compare to the average. So it's also possible that area of the country just likes to drink a lot.

Anyone who lives in the area care to confirm? I expect your comment to be filled with typos and make very little sense. And maybe smell like garbage.

[Thanks, Michael]
Mapping  homeviz  from google
march 2010
Not your father's PageRank
Steven Levy on how Google's search algorithm has changed over the years.

Take, for instance, the way Google's engine learns which words are synonyms. "We discovered a nifty thing very early on," Singhal says. "People change words in their queries. So someone would say, 'pictures of dogs,' and then they'd say, 'pictures of puppies.' So that told us that maybe 'dogs' and 'puppies' were interchangeable. We also learned that when you boil water, it's hot water. We were relearning semantics from humans, and that was a great advance."
But there were obstacles. Google's synonym system understood that a dog was similar to a puppy and that boiling water was hot. But it also concluded that a hot dog was the same as a boiling puppy. The problem was fixed in late 2002 by a breakthrough based on philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's theories about how words are defined by context. As Google crawled and archived billions of documents and Web pages, it analyzed what words were close to each other. "Hot dog" would be found in searches that also contained "bread" and "mustard" and "baseball games" -- not poached pooches. That helped the algorithm understand what "hot dog" -- and millions of other terms -- meant. "Today, if you type 'Gandhi bio,' we know that bio means biography," Singhal says. "And if you type 'bio warfare,' it means biological."

Or in simpler terms, here's a snippet of a conversation that Google might have with itself:

A rock is a rock. It's also a stone, and it could be a boulder. Spell it "rokc" and it's still a rock. But put "little" in front of it and it's the capital of Arkansas. Which is not an ark. Unless Noah is around.
Tags: Google   PageRank   search   Steven Levy
from google
february 2010
Stop Google Buzz From Showing the World Your Contacts
Whether you call it a huge privacy flaw or just an annoyance, Google Buzz can put the contacts you automatically follow—a.k.a. those you most frequently email or chat—on a public profile page. Here's how to undo that.
Google Blogoscoped's Philipp Lenssen felt he had to avoid following certain Buzz contacts, as he didn't want to expose his social circle to the wider net. He's right—if you have a Google Profile, once you set up Buzz, those you're following, and those following you, are shown on your profile page in a right-hand link list.

Update: This might not apply if you haven't touched much inside Buzz, or haven't set up a Google Profile, or that Profile is set to be hidden from the public. If so, you're mostly in the clear. But keep in mind that, once you post to Buzz, your profile will likely be created, and you'll want to know what's getting put up on the web.

To turn this off, sign into your Google account (via Gmail or elsewhere) and head to your Google profile—that link should work if you're signed in. Look for the two links showing "Following X people" and "X people following me." There's a gray note underneath those numbers, indicating whether they're visible to just you or to everyone.

If they're visible to everyone, hit the "Edit Profile" link on the right-hand edge of the blue bar in the middle of the page, to the right of "About me," "Buzz," and "Contact info." In the third column of options there, there are checkboxes that control privacy features, and one of them is labeled "Display the list of people I'm following and people following me." Un-check that box, and now your list of followers and followees is private—or at least seen only by those you're following, perhaps.

Want Google Buzz gone entirely? Log into Gmail, then look at the bottom of your inbox page for a "Turn off Buzz" link. If you're mainly annoyed at Buzz's constant, um, buzzing, read up on removing Buzz updates from your inbox.

This tip came courtesy of Contributing Editor Lisa, who was similarly shocked to see Google dropping everyone's frequently-contacted names on the net. If you've found a similarly crucial privacy tweak for Buzz, tell us about it in the comments.
Privacy  Contact_Management  Contacts  Gmail  google_buzz  Google_Chat  google_profile  Top  from google
february 2010
Personal Informatics Lab - Model
I made it into a CHI '10 paper as a participant! Super excited to read the full findings by Ian Li and co.
to-share  conference  visualization  pi 
february 2010
This American Infographic
EJ Fox takes on each episode of This American Life - with infographics!
to-share  visualization 
february 2010
See Dick And Jane Streets « Weather Sealed
Fun way to find all the streets with your name in North America
to-share  map 
january 2010
Google Contacts Can Kill Duplicates in Bulk
If you sync your Google contacts between multiple devices or pull from multiple email accounts, you've probably got quite a few duplicate entries. Now your Google and Gmail contacts let you kill those dupes en masse with a single button.

Hit up your contacts from Gmail, or head to google.com/contacts, and hit the "Find duplicates" button in the lower-right area. You'll be provided with the list of contacts with at least 2 entries each, which you can view in expanded form, and then either merge together or kill off. Not that this is some new-fangled tool or an advanced feature, but I know at least a few Google users' primary annoyances with contacts can be salved, if not cured, with this little button.

One button to merge all duplicate contacts [Official Gmail Blog]
annoyances  contact_management  contacts  email  gmail  google_contacts  top  from google
december 2009
Choose Your Own Adventure
Detailed analysis and info-graphic visualizations of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books, by Christian Swinehart. Beautiful and fantastically detailed work. Be sure to explore the sections of the site from the menu atop the page. Truly wonderful. (Via Andy Baio.)

books  visualization  to-share 
november 2009
Google Offers Free Wi-Fi at Airports During the Holidays
Delayed flights and hold-overs won't tempt you with $10-a-day Wi-Fi this holiday season. That's because Google has bought out web service at 47 airports through Jan. 15, 2010, and offers it free, assuming you don't mind a little soft advertising.

As with Google's free Wi-Fi offering on Virgin America flights, those who log in through Google's Wi-Fi largess will likely get a few prompts to change their home page to Google or try out Google Chrome. There will also be chances to donate to Engineers Without Borders, the One Economy Corporation, or the Climate Savers Computing Initiative. Other than that, it's free Wi-Fi for laptops and mobile devices, offered through providers like Boingo, Advanced Wireless, and the other usual suspects.

Hit the link to see if your city's on the list. If it's not, there's a good chance your Wi-Fi could be picked up by Microsoft's Bing search engine, which foots the bill if you perform one search on Bing.

Free WiFi - A 2009-2010 Holiday Gift from Google [via Gizmodo]
free_wi-fi  air_travel_tip  airports  Dealhacker  deals  google  holidays  top  wi-fi  from google
november 2009
YouTube - ACMUISTConference's Channel
Proceedings videos from UIST (via Johnny Lee)
to-share  conference  acm  video 
october 2009
Search User Interfaces - Marti Hearst
Entire book available online - see chapters 10 and 11 for infovis in search and text analysis
books  ui  visualization  to-share 
september 2009
Video Notes from the Field — School of Visual Arts — MFA in Interaction ...
"So you’re thinking about being a designer? If I could tell you only *one thing* about going into the field, my advice would be ________."
design  video  to-share 
july 2009
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