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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    Visualizing the Stock Market

    INFO VISUALIZATION: Speaking of money maps, Smart Money has an interesting way of visualizing the stock market's ebb and flow: Map of the Market. This is very similar to Treemap, and similarly it allows you to get a good handle on thousands or millions of datapoints in only a few minutes of exploration. That being said, the interface needs some work (but I sympathize, Java’s Swing is quite unruly and difficult to do well).

    Shown here is a summary of the last 52 weeks of the market. The bigger the square, the bigger the market-cap for the company. The brightest yellow signifies a stock has gained 30%, while the brightest blue is the opposite. The squares are also grouped into areas to show their market sector, and the sectors are sized appropriately based on their percentage of overall market. I've always liked treemap and this is a great dataset to use it with!

    There's also a link to make a map of your portfolio, but I would just download Treemap and build your own version. Treemap is pretty difficult to use at first but it pays off with use.


    The Money Map

    INFO VISUALIZATION: Money Map is an interesting new tool that not only shows how much cities and states have contributed to different presidential candidates, but actually allows you to explore contributions by address. The map shown here shows how different New York neighborhoods and counties nation-wide have different political leanings (no surprise there).

    The controversial neighbor search feature allows you to see who your neighbors are contributing to, and how much they are willing to shell out. A search on my address revealed a neighbor in my building (who happens to work at Amazon.com) gave $85 to Howard Dean. It also revealed a dearth of Republicans in my ‘hood: Capitol Hill (again, not a surprise).

    I can understand why people are uncomfortable with this information. In the current political climate, people can get pretty excited about differing political views. Nonetheless, this is an interesting tool.


    David Levy on Information Overload

    INFO THEORY: David Levy, a professor at the University of Washington iSchool (UW iSchool == my school) talks about information overload on NPR's Talk of the Nation. Professor Levy talks about his cool idea of having a technology sabbath: one day a week that he avoids technology. (He didn't specify how far he takes this: no computer? no phone? no IM?)

    Windows Media (barf) and Real Media (barf*2) streams are available here on Talk of the Nation's website.


    USA Today Does It Again

    INFO VISUALIZATION: USA Today has to be the worst legit news organization when it comes to creating useful and informative information visualizations. (If an information visualization isn’t informative, then what the hell is it there for?) I ran across this train-wreck of a graph today in something called “USA Today Snapshots,” which I’m guessing is what they call those little animated distractions at the bottom of the section pages in their printed version.

    The general idea of this graph is clear: there are more massage therapists now then five years ago. Fine. But pay attention to the numbers: the growth of massage therapists was well over 300%, but does this graph make that clear? No, not at all; the length of the 2004 arm is exactly 200% of the 1999 arm. Compare this presentation to a very simple graph I made in about 10 minutes, it becomes very clear how poor the USA Today version is at making its point.

    “But you’re assuming the left of the graphic is the Y axis,” you may be saying. Or perhaps, “but we don’t know that this is a linear graph.” Yes, I am assuming these things because the graph gives me no indication that these assumptions are wrong.

    All but one of Tufte’s Six Principles of Graphical Integrity is broken by this display (not to mention his rules about "Chart Junk" and "Data-Ink Maximization"):

    The representation of numbers, as physically measured on the surface of the graphic itself, should be directly proportional to the numerical quantities represented.

    Clear, detailed, and thorough labeling should be used to defeat graphical distortion and ambiguity. Write out explanations of the data on the graphic itself. Label important events in the data.

    Show data variation, not design variation.

    In time-series displays of money, deflated and standardized units of monetary measurement are nearly always better than nominal units. (n/a for this graph)

    The number of information-carrying (variable) dimensions depicted should not exceed the number of dimensions in the data.

    Graphics must not quote data out of context.


    The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte


    DMV Vanity Plate Explorer

    INFO ACCESS: The State of Connecticut's DMV has a vanity plate previewer and database check to make sure it hasn't already been issued. It's always nice to see the government move more of these services online so we spend less time in line. I'm still waiting for the day I can get my gersh darn passport online. (I'm not holding my breath.)

    via researchbuzz



    VISUAL COMMUNICATION: There are some great (and free) icons over at the iconfactory. Below are the 1st place winners for the 2004 Pixelpalooza competition in the OS X Category. Now I need to get me a goddamn powerbook.


    Final Fantasy MMORPG Census

    INFO VISUALIZATION: Final Fantasy XI (yet another massive multiplayer online roll playing game... excuse me while I catch my breath) has posted a census of their online community. (Don't miss the little links at the bottom that take you to the pages with more detail!) It's well presented and quite interesting for anyone who has played this type of game before. Currently, they have more then 500,000 active players.

    Interesting to note is the time at which people log-in. Japanese and East Coast American players are the least likely to ever meet each other online due to large time differences. Judging from this diagram, the most populated time for the game is around 3:00pm Sunday afternoon in Japan, which is 11:00pm Saturday night in Pacific Standard Time.

    Although it’s a bummer the two communities don’t have more shared time online, it demonstrates how having both sides of the pacific on shared servers can balance the load and maximize their resources. And while this information is interesting, I'd love to see more more more. For example, which server is richest? What are their GDPs? Where are the areas with the most population density? There are a lot of opportunities for interesting meta-data in MMORPGs.


    Ben Fry == Cool Guy

    INFO VISUALIZATION: I Ben Fry. If you haven't seen this 31337 d00d's website, I would recomend getting lost there for an extended period of time. My favorites include his Zip Code Explorer and Anemone, a way of exploring "organic information design." Shown here is his project "Revisionst," a way of visualizing how software development evolves over time. Amazing work!


    Post 1

    ASSEMBLE ME: A'ight. Here it is: my first stab at blogging. I'm going to use this space to write about information I think is either interesting or displayed well. So far I have seen very few blogs about information presentation, so I thought I'd try and fill that niche. Enjoy!

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