The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

Avengers Assembled


What a fun, revelatory, and (of course) timely visualization.

Update: Here’s Jer’s post about the project.


The rise of "capitalism"

I love Benjamin Schmidt’s blog, where he uses R and a huge corpus of 19th century literature to ask questions about how words (and ideas) evolved over time. One such question might be: which came first, “capitalist” or “capitalism,” and how did the balance shift over time? Schmidt graphs it


—and commenter Dan narrates:

[The story is] one that begins with “capital” as an object of practical use and Smithian investigation, moves on to “capitalists” as a term of art for the skilled employer of capital, and becomes an increasingly pejorative “capitalism” by the turn of the twentieth century, before the mid-twentieth century re-appropriation of capitalism and capitalist by big business as positive goods.

Data viz meets American intellectual history. How could I not love this? Here’s more from the New York Times on the project.



Hey, so I’m going to make something for Longshot Magazine tonight, and I would like to call upon your collective brainpower for just a moment to help get me started.

The theme is COMEBACK; it’s articulated powerfully and persuasively on Longshot’s site. I participated last time, and it was a blast, so I’m doing it again. But rather than write a traditional piece (with, you know… words) I want to do some sort of data visualization. I’ll find some data, filter and process it, then make it pretty with Processing.

But I have no idea what subject or data I’m going to explore. And I’m at work right now and can’t really think about it very hard until after 6 p.m. or so. So I thought I’d throw the question out to the assembled might of the Snarkmatrix.

When you think COMEBACK and read Longshot’s pitch, what springs to mind?

What might be a good question or hypothesis to start with?

What’s a data set that people might not traditionally consider a data set?

This might require some constellational thinking.

Update: okay, I figured something out. Woo!


The secret genius of the MySpace shot

Another opus from the OkCupid data blog: this one is all about profile photos.

What I love is that any single one of the findings they present would have made a totally fine post. Totally link-worthy. But it just keeps going… and going… and going. Like they couldn’t stop themselves.

And then there’s this graph…


…which just about sums it up, doesn’t it?

There’s actually a really deep humanity to this post, and to the OkCupid blog in general. It would be easy to talk about this stuff in a really crass, cynical way. But instead, the blog overflows with charity and nerdy enthusiasm—for all of us and all the weird things we do.

(Via Dan.)

One comment

Choose Your Own Adventure, or a different adventure entirely

These visualizations of Choose Your Own Adventure books are the best kind of data viz. Oh man. Christian Swinehart goes beyond mere correlation, way beyond eye candy. His narrative-crunching reveals new patterns—patterns I wouldn’t even have thought to wonder about. For instance: in a CYOA book, the story can end on any page. How are endings distributed throughout a book? Now you know.

But, re: eye candy, it is of course all absolutely beautiful.

However… in a project full of beauty, it’s not even the beauty I liked best. It was this detail, noted near the end, about the Choose Your Own Adventure book called UFO 54-40:

The branch diagram for UFO 54-40 is unique in that it has one ending—the Ultima ending—which is completely disconnected from the rest of the story. It exists as an island, unreachable through choices but discoverable thanks to the random access nature of the book.

An unreachable ending. AN UNREACHABLE ENDING. And yet:

This ending was not just an easter egg for the obsessive reader who didn’t mind skimming every page looking for telltale words. Instead it’s hard to miss in even a casual riffling. A two-page illustration showing what could only be paradise (or perhaps a theme park) leaps out as the only spread in the book without any text. Flipping to the page before brings you to 101, where you discover that your curiosity has been rewarded. You have found the planet, not by following the constraints of the system, but by going outside of them—a fitting moral to the story and an encouraging reminder that any game should be a starting point for the imagination, not the end.

It’s the Kobayashi Maru! I am stunned and charmed.

Via Waxy and Noah Brier.

Update: Some CYOA context! Mark Sample provides a history of Choose Your Own Adventure viz.