18 Dec

The beauty of data visualization

View high-res (3.8MB) (Facebook)

Created by Paul Butler, an intern on Facebook’s data infrastructure engineering team, he writes:

“Visualizing data is like photography. Instead of starting with a blank canvas, you manipulate the lens used to present the data from a certain angle.”

I really like the way the above was articulated. And what a gorgeous visualization of Facebook’s interactions data. Such a powerful visualization, an example that a picture is truly worth a thousand words. And while the data has been manipulated (meaning it is biased) there is so much good information that can be told from this:

  • High-tech, open regions; such as Europe, USA, India, parts of South America, Israel, Japan and Oceania;
  • High-tech, closed regions, such as China — wow, totally dark; it is pretty sad;
  • Africa overall, still not as connected as the rest of the world due to a combination of isolated regions, and low technology penetration (due to economic and political issues). Same with parts of South America;
  • Low density population regions such as right in the middle of Australia or Alaska or the Amazon;
  • Regions with oppressive and closed governments such as China and Cuba and Iran and close by regions, all dark;
  • Relationships between regions and cities;
  • How human interactions shape the state of the world!

Very cool, exciting stuff…

I would love to see a chart like this one, but from the mobile perspective; to visualize how mobile is driving human connections around the world.

You can read more at Facebook’s Visualizing Friendships.


09 Oct

Concepts and Technologies behind Real-time Demand Data – A Consumer, Mobile and Business Perspective

A continuation of one of my favorite research topics, the mobile context and the meaning of interactions, below is my latest as presented at the 2009 Demand Analytics conference — this time with focus on real-time demand data, the consumer and businesses. The audience was mainly category and brand managers for big consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies.

See the related presentation Mobility and People’s Context, Interactions and Data, which was originally presented at Design4Mobile 2008.


09 Jan

Microsoft Joins the Physical World Connections and Interactions Space with Microsoft Tag

Microsoft has joined the physical world connection/interactions space with its release of their High Capacity Color Barcode (HCCB) called Microsoft Tag, a new 2D Barcode technology developed by Microsoft research that competes with QR Code, Datamatrix and other 2D barcode technologies.

Comparing Microsoft Tag to QR Code:

Microsoft Tag uses colors and triangles vs. black and white and squares, and it support Tags that contain URLs, Free Text, vCard, and Dialer type. A time-to-live or time-frame can be associated with it the tag, which is useful for marketing campaigns.

I’m a big fan of the new kinds of interactions that are possible via visual and radio tags; related to this see my presentations (SlideShare), and related pages on my blog: Physical Interactions and Touch/NFC.

The Microsoft Tag Video (YouTube):

Creating and Managing Tags

Microsoft tag is an end-to-end solution: the Tags, the software on the handset, and the software on the web that allows you to create and manage and print your own tags; see below.

Creating a Tag (Click to enlarge):

Managing Tags (Click to enlarge):

This is the Tag I created of type URL to my blog:

Downloading Microsoft Tag

You can download the Microsoft Tag reader client directly to your phone: Android and PalmOS (coming soon), BlackBerry, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile, Sony Ericsson and other J2ME devices, by pointing your phone to gettag.mobi website.

Is there a need for a new Visual Tag?

Tags such as QR Codes are high capacity tags already:

(from Wikipedia)

  • Numeric only Max. 7,089 characters
  • Alphanumeric Max. 4,296 characters
  • Binary (8 bits) Max. 2,953 bytes
  • Kanji/Kana Max. 1,817 characters

But as @torgo Tweeted back:

“…But do we really need a new 2d barcode? What exactly is the problem with QR?”

And @adamcohenrose wrote:

“I thought QR codes had no licensing problems?”

I don’t buy “capacity” as the reason Microsoft introduced its own tag, but perhaps is because “they just can”, or maybe related to licensing; while QR Codes are considered open, QR Codes are patented, but the patent is not being enforced (at this moment). Another reason is that the color-based, triangle tags provide for better “fiducials”, allowing for faster alignment and scanning thus better experience; this I need to test to determine.