AssembleMe is an information science blog written by Julius Schorzman that frequently sways off-topic.

Julius is the CEO of the Google Ventures backed company DailyCred. DailyCred makes working with OAuth super duper simple.

To view some of my old projects, visit Shopobot or CodeCodex.

You can follow me on Twitter if you really want to @schorzman.

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    Quiet Week

    ASSEMBLEME: It's been a quiet week so far here at Assemble Me and will probably remain so through the holiday weekend. Plenty of things to write about, but I'm just taking it easy this week and playing video games. I'll be back to writing after the holiday. W00t!


    Continuous Population Clock

    DATA: Next time you need to know how many people there are in the US or the World, right now, check out the Census' PopClock.

    Combine this data with the previous post and you'll learn that a gay American is born every 80-160 seconds. How many gay Earthlings are there? Probably somewhere between 318,830,145 and 637,660,291. That means if gay people all decided to form their own country, they'd be the third largest nation in the world, behind India and China, ahead of the US and Indonesia. What a fabulous country that would be!


    Where My Homos At?

    INFO VISUALIZATION: This image was published by Seattle's Weekly, The Stranger, but I believe the information comes from a book called "The Gay & Lesbian Atlas" (a book I've been meaning to pick up for a while). This map shows the relative density of gays and lesbians in the US by county; from gayless green to flaming red.

    These GIS maps that use zip codes or counties are always a bit misleading for a few reasons. Firstly, not all zip codes are created equal (for example, the White House has it's own zip code with a population of 2). Also, the size of the zip code or county is often inversely related to the population density: denser areas have smaller zip codes and smaller counties. This relationship (greater value = less size) is of course the opposite of what we intuit about information displays. And of course, Western states are much more likely to have large counties (just as they tend to be larger states themselves).

    All of these problems distort the image: just look how prominent Nye county in Nevada is -- it's size and color could give the impression that this sparcely populated desert is the center of Gay America (when we all know where that is). But these visualizations are really the best we can do since a proper and arbitrary grid layout would require the latitude and longitude of all respondents who identify as gay (now that would be some awesome gaydar). Still, it's an illuminating bit of information. It gives hints as to why gayless North Dakota is as boring as, well, North Dakota and why the only way The Governator could get elected in gay-as-hell California was by being decidedly pro-gay rights.


    E.J. Dionne

    INFO SCIENCE: I heard E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post (and author of "Stand Up Fight Back") on NPR's Weekday yesterday. He had a great comment that I thought I'd pass on:

    The plural of anecdote isn't data.

    What a great quote.


    Sony to Send QRIOs Back In Time; Hunt Down Steve Jobs

    INFO TECHNOLOGY: Peter Rojas at Engadget finally goes all out on formerly-great Sony. Awesome.

    SONY WHAT ARE YOU DOING? To us Sony is now officially in bizzaro world, where up is down, left is right and where people might still use Mini-Disc. We hate to say it, but here it is, Sony- we think you had a shot at reclaiming your birthright that Apple yoinked away, the Walkman, any day now we were expected a 100 GB MP3/Ogg player with an amazing sleek design, way less expensive than an iPod, we expected Sony to take the bold step and say “Hey, we’re done with Memory Stick, ATRAC and Mini-Disc for music, here we are now, check out our new device”. But no- Sony is running around updating the Mini-Disc. C’mon Sony, you dumped the CLIE how about killing off Mini-Disc, the world will cheer you on, well maybe not the dozen or so die hard Mini-Disc folks, but if you’re going to market share, there are more people who buy vinyl than Mini-Disc, at least consider a cool record player or something. Maybe Sony plans to send back the QRIOs back in time to hunt down Steve Jobs- Sarah Connor style once the QRIOs get more AI, we really can’t figure it out.

    Amen, brother!


    Hudson Yards: Visualizing Urban Development Projects

    VISUAL COMMUNICATION: Last time I was in New York I wanted to walk the High Line, an old "elevated rail structure on the West Side of Manhattan" that was created in the 1930s and finally abandoned in 1980. Ever since it was abandoned, it's become a sort of unofficial garden / open space that's actually pretty accessible to anyone who wants to visit it. I've always loved old abandoned buildings and structures (who doesn't?) and I especially love those that are a bit arcane even though they're right there in plain sight.

    Unfortunately I didn't get to walk the High Line. The fenced-in truck yard where the elevated line comes to ground level had this creepy semi truck driver just hanging out, staring at me as I walked by about a half dozen times. Since he wasn't moving, I decided to save it for a later date. While I was walking around this 'hood though, I couldn't help but notice how under developed it was. Here I was, only a few minutes from Madison Square Garden in the middle of the day, surrounded by a quiet train yard and not a person in sight. Creepy.

    Anyway, today I found this great proposal that would develop this area into a beautiful new area of the city. I couldn't help but fall in love with the ideas, in part because the New York City Government has done such a great job communicating their proposals for the area. The website for the Hudson Yards Development is wonderfully put together, with plenty of graphics to give you a real feel for the project. Every city should be so lucky. Ok, suddenly I realllly want to play SimCity.

    (High Line photo by J. Sternfeld)

    (Hudson Yards story via Gothamist)



    INTERFACES: N.E.S.T. (when in doubt, give your project an acroname) is a project that, well, how do I put this? It sends a file around the web (using User Datagram Protocol) and traces how the file slowly becomes corrupted overtime. Kind of cool; kind of forgettable. However, I got a kick out of their interface. Where have I seen this before?


    "I will let science guide us, not ideology"

    SCIENCE: John Kerry on the federal government and science policy.

    I am proud that today 47 Nobel Laureates have sent an open letter to America in support of my campaign and our cause to invest and lead the world in science. As president, I will listen to the advice of our scientists so I can make the best decisions. Their reports and evaluations will be open so that you can make informed decisions as well. This is your future and I will let science guide us, not ideology.

    Second, we need to invest in science and new technologies that may help cure diseases, start great new industries and deepen our understanding of the world in which we live. That’s why I will increase our funding to the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and other important agencies and initiatives that promote crucial research. These advances have the opportunity to do so much good in the world and new technologies like nanotechnology and clean energy have the potential to transform the American economy.


    And finally, we must lift the barriers that stand in the way of stem cell research and push the boundaries of medical exploration so that researchers can find treatments that are there, if only they are allowed to look. And we should do this while providing strict ethical oversight.

    Here's the New York Times' report on the speech.


    Flash Attack: In the News & Newsmap

    INFO VISUALIZATION: In the News is a new project that looks a lot like Newsmap. Basically, it's a flashy way of interacting with some of the meta-data that Google News provides.

    In the News gathers its nouns from this little corner of Google News:

    and then collects the number of stories related to that noun for any specific day. The color for any specific box shows it's relative frequency compared to the previous day. Good stuff.


    Processing Project: Flight404

    INFO VISUALIZATION: Flight404 is an flash-heavy but still cool group of mini-projects created using Processing.

    Processing itself is "a programming language and environment built for the electronic arts and visual design communities. It was created to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context and to serve as an electronic sketchbook." Blah blah blah. Basically, it's a cute and simple language that allows anyone to make some pretty kick-ass visualizations. It's a project by Ben Fry (who, as I've said before, I love) and Casey Reas, both of MIT's Media Lab.

    The projects on their site are more art then useful, but all the tools are there for applying processing to some interesting data-sets.