5 Powerful Visualisations of Internet data

Visualisations represent complex data in visually appealing and accessible ways, using colour, shapes, and animation to represent patterns and changes in extremely large sets of data. Here are 5 ITGS related visualisations that could make good lesson starters or provide some thought-provoking material at the start of the ITGS course.

1. Facebook friendship visualisation

This image is a “social graph” of the friendships of 500 million Facebook users. The brighter the lines, the more friendships between those nodes.

2. Tsunami tweets visualisation

This video visualisation shows global retweets of Twitter messages originating in Japan immediately after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

3. What Facebook knows about you

In 2011 Austrian law student Max Schrems sent Facebook a request for all the personal data they stored about him. He received over 1200 pages of information, including data going back to 2008 and deleted data. This video is a visualisation of that data.

4. History of the World in 100 seconds (according to Wikipedia)

This video purports to show the history of the world by mapping 14,200 events listed on Wikipedia against time. As you can see, there are bursts of activity on certain dates, and the final images resembles a world map. I think this visualisation probably more about the nature of Wikipedia – and the way we generate information – than about historical events.

5. Bike rentals visualisation

There have been a couple of ITGS exam questions about bike rental schemes (for example, May 2009 Paper 2). This animation shows bike use in London schemes over time.

Create your own visualisations

For those who want to create their own infographics and visualisations, visual.ly looks like a powerful resource. It also hosts many user-generated visualisations to explore.

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