Data Driven Digest for May 1

Next Monday is Star Wars Day, and we’re getting a jumpstart on the holiday with today’s Data Driven Digest. Our first item analyzes the latest teaser trailer for the next installment – yes, there’s data there – and we remain out of this world to admire a video data visualization by an amateur astronomer. We finally plummet back to earth to visualize the value of our personal data.


Crash Course: It’s common practice to start with data and create visualizations. When Rhett Allain saw the new teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he did just the opposite: he observed the land speeder cruising across a desert planet (which, according to news reports, is not Tatooine) and calculated its speed. Published in Wired Science, Allain’s dissection of the scene is a terrific work of video forensics, and includes all of his underlying data. The Force is strong in this one.

Location, Location, Location: While we’re out in space, check out the video above by Tony Rice, a software engineer, amateur astronomer, and “solar system ambassador” for NASA. The video visualizes 24 hours of Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) coverage by tracing the path of all of the GPS satellites and showing the overlap of their signals on the surface of the earth. Rice created the video using JSatTrak and orbital data from NORAD. Rice has also created a similar video showing the “A-Train” – a constellation of Earth-observing satellites that travel in a sun-synchronous orbit. No mind tricks here.

price of data

Personal Cost: Unlike GPS – which is a single system that works worldwide – the web of privacy and security laws and regulations that cover the globe are a madly mixed bag, and so are people’s valuations of their personal data. In an article in the May issue of Harvard Business Review, authors Timothy Morey, Theo Forbath and Allison Schoop surveyed consumers in the United States, China, India, Great Britain, and Germany about how they value web search history, location, health history and nine other types of personal data. Their chart of variances from country to country (a snippet of which is above; click through) is part of an article well worth reading.

Like what you see? Every Friday we share favorite examples of data visualization and embedded analytics that have come onto our radar in the past week. 


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