Posts Tagged ‘ibm’

Wordalizer tag cloud script for InDesign | A Tribute to Wordle (Indiscripts)

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Looks like my earlier post on Wordle helped Marc Atret implement tag clouds (word clouds) in InDesign.]

Republished from Indiscripts.

Wordalizer is a word cloud builder for InDesign CS4. Try now the beta version of this experimental script —inpired by the magnificent Wordle web tool created by Jonathan Feinberg.

I began to work on Wordalizer for InDesign in September 2008! Jonathan Feinberg had just launched its brilliant Wordle Java applet and I was highly impressed by the typographical perfection that Wordle could reach in word clouding. I was naively dreaming to operate the same way from the InDesign DOM! Too much confident in my scripting abilities, I still hadn’t realized how powerful the Feinberg’s core algorithm was, until I found this post on “Kelso’s Corner” blog. Feinberg says: “It’s not quite ‘simple bounding box,’ which wouldn’t permit words inside words, or nestling up to ascenders and descenders. It’s full glyph intersection testing, but with a sprinkle of CS applied to make it work at interactive speeds.”

Yes indeed! The hardest part of the whole challenge is in speeding up hit-tests, and you can’t imagine what this Java performance problem looks like when translated into the InDesign JS context! After remaining at a standstill for a long time, I decided to start my script from the beginning again.

Continue reading at Indiscripts . . .

read-write mapping: NACIS Conference Keynote by Michal Migurski of Stamen Design

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

[Editor's note: I'm just getting back from the annual NACIS conference and decompressing from backpacking, family and friends in the Golden State. Our great keynote speaker this year was Michal Migurski of Stamen Design who talked up the OpenStreetMap project. Mike has also been kind enough to help out with the Natural Earth Data site which will go live in another couple weeks once Tom and I have polished the data. Without further ado, the keynote...]

Republished from tecznotes.

[clip] I used the opportunity to talk about the fascinating OpenStreetMap project, specifically the ways in which it’s useful to a cartography audience and how that audience could benefit the project. This last thing in particular is what I closed with: I think the online face of OSM’s rendered tiles could use serious input from the NACIS community, particularly at the kinds of medium scales where the highly-detailed data blurs into “features”. Much of this happens by-hand in tools like Adobe Illustrator from what I can tell, a very different workflow from the industrial automation offered by my favorite stand-by, Mapnik.

This is a talk about a new awareness of maps and geography, and a change in attitudes toward maps.

I’m going start with a small detour here to tell you about an online phenomenon that’s going on four or so years now, called Unboxing. Unboxing is a kind of geek striptease, described in one site’s tagline as a “vicarious thrill from opening new gear”.

Unboxing is a response to the meticulous packaging of modern electronics gear, most notably Apple’s range of iPods, iPhones, and Mac computers – careful design is invested in the packaging, and careful appreciation is invested in its removal.

Why unboxing? Two aspects of the trend seem relevant here.

First, it’s a new kind of visibility into the fan club culture around popular electronics, allowing users to elevate their own appreciation of a mass-market good into a social experience. I remember bicycling past the Apple Store and the Cingular store on San Francisco’s Market St. on the day the iPhone was released. There were enormous lines in front of each, and as customers picked up their new iPhones they’d walk out the door, break into a jog, and high-five the remainder of the line. The division between fan and star here evaporates.

Second, the delivery mechanism for this fan-produced culture tends to be online sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube. Both are examples of the phenomenon of the “Read Write Web”, the now-familiar pattern of web-based communities formed around the creation and sharing of social objects like photos and videos.

One effect of these online communities is a new and durable awareness of the process behind creative production. Pages on Flickr or YouTube follow a pattern you’re probably familiar with: title in the upper-left, main “thing” just below that, and to the right at the same level of importance, the person who made it for you. Responsibility and provenance along with all the messiness and point-of-view are built-in assumptions.

In the world of text, we see this same pattern on Wikipedia.

This is the History Flow project from Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viegas at IBM, which shows edits to a single Wikipedia article over time as threads and contributions from a group of editors.

Like this one, each article has been beaten into shape over time by a group of people following loose rules of cooperation, so each page has an associated “Talk” page where you can peek into the arguments and negotiations connected to the particular set of facts represented there. You can see the sausage being made. You can also cause the sausage to be made, as we saw with Stephen Colbert’s parody of consensual reality he called “wikiality” and used to make occasional, abusive, hilarious forays into Wikipedia.

This is where we segue into geography.

Around 2004 or so, UK developer Steve Coast started a project called OpenStreetMap, the Wiki world map. Steve was connecting a few emerging threads: the falling cost of GPS hardware since it was made available for civilian use in 1996, the dismal copyright layer wrapped around Ordnance Survey maps, and the lack of a viable crappy-but-free alternative in the UK. It’s hard to overstate how crazy this idea was at the time; everyone knows that collecting worldwide geographic data at the street level is a massive undertaking, out of reach of an enthusiast community like the OSM of the time.

What was the state of online mapping at the time? Not terrible, but not great.

Continue reading at tecznotes  . . .

IBM Tag Cloud Map Ad (Wash Post)

Friday, August 7th, 2009

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[Editor's note: Yesterday's post on Travel Bermuda reminds me of this IBM ad from back in June picking up of buzz words in the U.S. capital around the Obama administration. The tags animate into the shape of a map showing the world on it's continents on a globe.]

Republished from The Washington Post on 16 June 2009 (in the web edition).

USPS Eames Stamps (Door 16)

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

[Editor's note: My local post office seems to be out of these awesome stamps celebrating Charles and Ray Eames. I also include here the video they produced called "Powers of 10". This is a must see film explaining the concept of scale in visual terms, starting with a couple picnicking on the Chicago lakeshore, zooming out progressively to the starts (10 to the positive exponent), and then in to the subatomic level (10 to the negative exponent).]

Republished from Door Sixteen. ( 1 | 2 )

These stamps were designed by the remarkable Derry Noyes, who design many of the stamps for the US Post Office. The first inklings of this possibility were 10 or 12 years ago when we (I am wearing my Eames Office hat here) first answered a request for research images.

There is a wonderful familial connection there, as Derry is the daughter of Eli Noyes, who was an extremely close friend of Charles and Ray’s and the director of design at IBM.

Slowly over this time period it blossomed to a full on set of 16 stamps to celebrate the richness of Charles and Ray’s work. We see the Eames House, La Chaise, the Lounge Chair, Crosspatch, House of Cards, the film Tops and more.

Just think: How many Toys are on stamps? How many short films? This is just a great thing.

The Petabyte Age: Because More Isn’t Just More — More Is Different (Wired mag)

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Sensors everywhere. Infinite storage. Clouds of processors. Our ability to capture, warehouse, and understand massive amounts of data is changing science, medicine, business, and technology. As our collection of facts and figures grows, so will the opportunity to find answers to fundamental questions. Because in the era of big data, more isn’t just more. More is different.

Republished from the 06.23.08 edition of Wired magazine. View original.

[There are 8 essays; I promote 5 here.]

Tracking Air Fares: Elaborate Algorithms Predict Ticket Prices

wired air lines

“Flight Patterns” shows 141,000 aircraft paths over a 24-hour period. Image: Aaron Koblin

In 2001, Oren Etzioni was on a plane chatting up his seat mates when he realized they had all paid less for their tickets than he did. “I thought, ‘Don’t get mad, get even,’” he says. So he came home to his computer lab at the University of Washington, got his hands on some fare data, and plugged it into a few basic prediction algorithms. He wanted to see if they could reliably foresee changes in ticket prices. It worked: Not only did the algorithms accurately anticipate when fares would go up or down, they gave reasonable estimates of what the new prices would be. Read more.

Feeding the Masses

wired feeding the masses

The Iowa agriculture landscape: Green areas are more productive for soy, corn, and wheat; red are least.
Image: Firstborn

Farmer’s Almanac is finally obsolete. Last October, agricultural consultancy Lanworth not only correctly projected that the US Department of Agriculture had overestimated the nation’s corn crop, it nailed the margin: roughly 200 million bushels. That’s just 1.5 percent fewer kernels but still a significant shortfall for tight markets, causing a 13 percent price hike and jitters in the emerging ethanol industry. When the USDA downgraded expectations a month after Lanworth’s prediction, the little Illinois-based company was hailed as a new oracle among soft-commodity traders — who now pay the firm more than $100,000 a year for a timely heads-up on fluctuations in wheat, corn, and soybean supplies. Read more.

Predicting the Vote: Pollsters Identify Tiny Voting Blocs

wired vote

Infographic: Build

Want to know exactly how many Democratic-leaning Asian Americans making more than $30,000 live in the Austin, Texas, television market? Catalist, the Washington, DC, political data-mining shop, knows the answer. CTO Vijay Ravindran says his company has compiled nearly 15 terabytes of data for this election year — orders of magnitude larger than the databases available just four years ago. (In 2004, Howard Dean’s formidable campaign database clocked in at less than 100 GB, meaning that in one election cycle the average data set has grown 150-fold.) In the next election cycle, we should be measuring voter data in petabytes.

Large-scale data-mining and micro-targeting was pioneered by the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, but Democrats, aided by privately financed Catalist, are catching up. They’re documenting the political activity of every American 18 and older: where they registered to vote, how strongly they identify with a given party, what issues cause them to sign petitions or make donations. (Catalist is matched by the Republican National Committee’s Voter Vault and Aristotle Inc.’s immense private bipartisan trove of voter information.) Read more.

Visualizing Big Data: Bar Charts for Words

wired big data visualization

A visualization of thousands of Wikipedia edits that were made by a single software bot. Each color corresponds to a different page. Photo credit: Fernanda B. Viégas, Martin Wattenberg, and Kate Hollenbach.

The biggest challenge of the Petabyte Age won’t be storing all that data, it’ll be figuring out how to make sense of it. Martin Wattenberg, a mathematician and computer scientist at IBM’s Watson Research Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a pioneer in the art of visually representing and analyzing complex data sets. He and his partner at IBM, Fernanda Viégas, created Many Eyes, a collaborative site where users can share their own dynamic, interactive representations of big data. He spoke with Wired‘s Mark Horowitz: Read more.

Sorting the World: Google Invents New Way to Manage Data

wired sorting

Used to be that if you wanted to wrest usable information from a big mess of data, you needed two things: First, a meticulously maintained database, tagged and sorted and categorized. And second, a giant computer to sift through that data using a detailed query.

But when data sets get to the petabyte scale, the old way simply isn’t feasible. Maintenance — tag, sort, categorize, repeat — would gobble up all your time. And a single computer, no matter how large, can’t crunch that many numbers.

Google’s solution for working with colossal data sets is an elegant approach called MapReduce. It eliminates the need for a traditional database and automatically splits the work across a server farm of PCs. For those not inside the Googleplex, there’s an open source version of the software library called Hadoop.

MapReduce can handle almost any type of information you throw at it, from photos to phone numbers. In the example below, we count the frequency of specific words in Google Books. Read more.

Wordle – Beautiful Tag Clouds

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

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From the official website:

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

[Editor's note: This awesome tool from Jonathan Feinberg, a researcher at IBM, displays tag clouds the "right" way by packing the words into the interstitial space between tags and rotating tags from the horizontal baseline. Johnathan uses simple bounding box logic to accomplish this. I will look into adding this to my Adobe Illustrator script (and perhaps bound the tags into a user-defined shape like a heart for Valentine's day).

If you look at the HTML tag cloud that is generated for my blog at the right sidebar you'll see a bunch of text on the same horizontal baselines. That type of tag cloud wastes a lot of space by not packing the words closer together. If there is a big word with small words on 1 line, there is a lot of wasted white space around the smaller words on that line. Fast but not pretty. And only horizontal. Up until now packed tag clouds have taken tedious hand-placement by an artist.

Now Wordle, a web Java applet will do that for you. The tag clouds can be saved as vector PDF by printing to that format in your web browser. This will generate a vector-outlined version of the tags (outlined fonts, not editable type) and in rich-black RGB color space so make sure to convert and clean-up in CMYK before publishing! There is no restriction on publishing the tag clouds for profit or otherwise. Seen on infosthetics.com.]

Interface design and the iPhone (Tufte)

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

From edwardtufte.com. View original. Thanks Curt!

The iPhone platform elegantly solves the design problem of small screens by greatly
intensifying the information resolution of each displayed page. Small screens, as on
traditional cell phones, show very little information per screen, which in turn leads
to deep hierarchies of stacked-up thin information–too often leaving users with
“Where am I?” puzzles. Better to have users looking over material adjacent in space
rather than stacked in time.

To do so requires increasing the information resolution of the screen by the hardware
(higher resolution screens) and by screen design (eliminating screen-hogging
computer administrative debris, and distributing information adjacent in space).

This video shows some of the resolution-enhancing methods of the iPhone, along
with a few places for improvements in resolution.

(This is a 56mb file; it might take a while to load.
The video is essential to the essay as is the still-land material below.)

… View video … (opens new window with original Tufte post)

In 1994-1995 I [Tufte] designed (while consulting for IBM) screen mock-ups for navigating
through the National Gallery via information kiosks. (The National Gallery had the
good sense not to adopt the proposal.) For several years these screen designs were
handouts in the one-day course in my discussion of interface design, and were then
published in my book Visual Explanations (1997).

The design ideas here include high-resolution touch-screens; minimizing computer
admin debris; spatial distribution of information rather than temporal stacking;
complete integration of text, images, and live video; a flat non-hierarchical
interface; and replacing spacious icons with tight words. The metaphor for the
interface is the information. Thus the iPhone got it mostly right.

Here are pages 146-150 from Visual Explanations (1997):

Continue reading at Tufte.com . . .