Visualization idea

Posted: March 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Visualization | Tags: | No Comments »

I’d been looking for a clear visualization of Japanese radiation data, and finally came across one. Here is an example of the data-view.

The site is useful, but unfortunately it only recently started scraping data; baseline data is missing, and there gaps in the record. In spite of the shortcomings, you can almost-instantly understand the current situation in Japan far better than reading an article.

Shortcomings and opportunities:

  • The current visualization assumes an understanding of how Japanese prefectures relate to cities, and where each are located. Brushing and linking, for instance, could establish clearer associations between them.
  • Understanding units of radiation requires domain expertise. Baseline data and benchmarking would make the data more meaningful, and give better context so one could understand, “How much radiation is this?”.
  • The data could be summarized at the map-level, using a scrubber or timemap.

Update: The New York Times finally is showing radiation data!

Socratic Irony

Posted: March 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Amusing | No Comments »

I came across an amusing example of Socratic Irony in an old version of Wikipedia.

In his character of Ali G, Sacha Baron Cohen uses Socratic irony to satirical effect. For instance, in one sketch he interviews a professor from the National Poison Information Center about recreational drug use. Ali’s pretended stupidity in the form of asking questions like, “Does Class A drugs absolutely guarantee that they is better quality?” elicits a response that makes drugs look like any other consumer article.


Now Wikipedia uses Columbo as an example, instead. Did they make the change because Columbo is less-controversial than Ali G? The previous version of the article also used Stephen Colbert as an example of someone who used socratic irony. It might be interesting to examine examples given in wikipedia and how they change over time.