Where are you? A pretty easy question to answer. But, what about, “Where was I?” Not so easy to answer, especially when we start talking about periods of time more than a few days or weeks. Sure, we all have GPS running on our phones now. We can check in with Foursquare/Facebook/Path etc. to keep a log of locations, but that data is fragmented and only represents certain specific locations. What about paths? What would we learn if we knew more about how we traveled about our world?
Aaron Pareki is one of the founders of Geoloqi, a location-based services platform. He has also been tracking his location every 6 seconds for the last four years and he has created some amazing visualizations to better understand his movement:
You may think this is just a boring old map with some travel data layered on top, but what makes this map special is that there is no underlying geospatial data. The lines you see above are Aaron’s actual travel paths from his GPS data. Using this information you can easily see the well traveled roadways by finding the thicker lines. You can even quickly pick out freeways and interstates due to their high speed.
Here you see Aaron’s data for the last four years (again, there are only the GPS traces). You can see he’s color-coded the data ro represent different years in order to see where he spends his time.
Aaron has a lot more visualizations of his GPS traces, but I’ll leave you with this neat video showing a timelapse of his minute-by-minute movement:
Every few weeks be on the lookout for new posts profiling interesting individuals and their data. If you have an interesting story or link to share leave a comment or contact the author here.
From the New York QS Show&Tell group: Robert Rabinovitz, a design teacher at the Parsons New School of Design and a designer himself, mapped the 40-minute period on January 19, 2007 when he experienced his first brain seizure. He takes us through his gripping story, moment by moment, with images of what he saw that day. Robert is also writing a play, writing a research report and planning a film about his experience of survival. Watch the video below to see how the design process saved his life.
At our June Bay Area Quantified Self Show&Tell, Jim Keravala of Flaii gave us a brief tour of the mind map he developed using TheBrain. He spends 1-2 hours a day entering information into his virtual brain, and has recorded about 65,000 thoughts so far. He feels that the main benefit he gets from it is enhanced recall, which has given him an advantage in business situations. In the video below, he reveals that he has become very attached to the system he uses and doesn’t like to be away from it for more than a few hours at a time.
Bo Adler, a regular at Quantified Self Show&Tell meetups in the Bay Area, describes a mapping mashup he built for his naturalist friends who work with Outdoor Education groups. He wanted to capture their location from the pictures they are taking along the Pacific Crest trail, from Mexico to Canada. Find out what he learned from the power of location.
Would you like to see a heatmap of all your FourSquare check-ins?
Steven Lehrburger shows a mashup he built called Where Do You Go? at a recent New York City Quantified Self Show&Tell meetup. He combined Google Maps, the FourSquare API, and the GHeat heat mapping library to create surprising visualizations. With amusing audience brainstorming and even a “dance break” moment, this is a fun one.
A Stanford professor in Human-Computer Interaction and Quantified Self advisor on data visualization, Heer and his colleagues Mike Bostock and Vadim Ogievetsky have put together a terrific guide to the various kinds of data visualization, and when and how to use each one.
“In 2010 alone we will generate 1,200
exabytes–60 million times the content of the Library of Congress. Within
this deluge of data lies a wealth of valuable information on how we
conduct our businesses, governments, and personal lives. To put the
information to good use, we must find ways to explore, relate, and
communicate the data meaningfully…
Well-designed visual representations can replace cognitive calculations
with simple perceptual inferences and improve comprehension, memory, and
decision making. By making data more accessible and appealing, visual
representations may also help engage more diverse audiences in
exploration and analysis…
Creating a visualization requires a number of nuanced judgments. One
must determine which questions to ask, identify the appropriate data,
and select effective visual encodings to map data values to
graphical features such as position, size, shape, and color.”
Stops along the tour include Time-Series Data, Statistical Distributions, Maps, Hierarchies, and Networks. Each one is broken down into subtypes, with helpful examples that can be applied to your own dataset.
The authors end with a challenge:
“As you leave the zoo and head back into the wild, try deconstructing the
various visualizations crossing your path. Perhaps you can design a
more effective display?”
His list includes blogs on statistics, visualizations, maps, design, and “others worth noting,” a category that includes our own Quantified Self blog. Thanks Nathan! (Adding Nathan’s blog to the list makes 38.)
How do you feel in different places? The precise correlation of location and emotional arousal is the topic of Christan Nold‘s long running biomapping project. The project used a simple galvanic skin response meter, which gives a reading of how excited you are.
A GSR device is simple. Here’s the Lego version.
These GSR readings are not very specific. They do not tell you whether you are disgusted, shocked, thrilled, or fascinated. But once Nold added GPS tracking, and invited people to annotate their readings, he could produce a map that correlates emotion with locations. This can be mashed up in Google Earth with contributions from others.
Nold’s device looks like this.
You can download a printable version of the San Francisco map (PDF). But, better yet, you can get the raw data (kmz) and load it onto Google Earth to browse. Right now this is an art project, a vision of the future, a hint of the utopian upside in surveillance and tracking.
Next step – getting my own version!