Data Driven Digest for December 12

Each Friday we share some favorite reporting on, and examples of, data driven visualizations and embedded analytics that came onto our radar in the past week.

Dry Ideas: As I type this, rain is falling at a prodigious rate here at Actuate headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area – greater than 3 inches per hour for a while on Thursday in some parts of the region. But in the long term California is still in a drought, so scientists at the United States Geological Survey have created an impressive interactive website – California Drought, Visualized with Open Data – to illustrate the depth of the problem and help residents to visualize the drought over time.

As the site’s title implies, it was created using only open source software and free, publicly available data sources. Reservoir storage, snowpack, streamflow, water withdrawals and more are all integrated into the site, and best of all you’ll find “Get the Data” links throughout so you can check the work. For a counterpoint, check out the colorful visualizations of the Bay Area’s “Stormageddon” created by Frank Bi of Forbes.




Shop Talk: The Google Analytics blog this week published Ringing in the New Year – Behavior Trends and Insights, a post that examined three years of digital marketing data, looking for patterns in how people shop online. Focusing specifically on activity between December 11 and January 14 – key holiday shopping time – the GA team compared data from the U.S., UK, and France. Among their conclusions: the Brits and French shop more than Americans in the weeks after Christmas. Indeed, the bloggers dubbed the second Wednesday in January – the traditional start of winter sales in France – as French Cyber Wednesday. As you see above, the charts themselves can be tough to read, but B2C marketers will find value in the data, conclusions, and advice.


Seeing Sound: To aurally oriented people like John Davies, Manhattan’s neighborhoods are defined not by streets but by music. Davies has chosen songs that represent the Big Apple’s neighborhoods – examples include Jimi Hendrix’s Machine Gun for the East Village (home of the Fillmore East) and the Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop for the Lower East Side (home of CBGB), and converted the music’s waveforms into representations of the neighborhoods’ skylines. Davies’ finished “Soundscape” may not be data visualization in the strictest sense, but it hints at how data from one realm can be represented in a different format. Plus, it’s just plain cool-looking.


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