Category Archives: Design

Gameplay as an introduction to data mining and taxonomy

Google Feud is an interesting online game using Google autocomplete. It is a good way to open a discussion into data mining and taxonomy.

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The game, by developer Justin Hook , is fun and surprisingly addictive. It harnesses the mystery of Google’s autocomplete search function, asking players to choose the next word in a broad query such as ‘Google…’ or ‘I love my…’, the game gives users three chances to complete the leader board, giving a big X with every wrong answer.

What’s interesting about this game is the ease with which it could be used for data mining. If the guesses are recorded and sorted by frequency, it could supply huge amounts of useful data; all from real people, giving their best guesses.

Sorting this data using techniques like those used in taxonomy and cladistics could reveal results to improve future search or autocomplete suggestions. I guess it’s a fairly safe bet Google do this type of thing, and much more, with their search data already.

Now imagine an online retailer selling thousands of products. If data is mined from the searches customers type, rather than from the point of sale, useful information could be gained to reveal the ‘real world’ language customers use to describe what they want. For example imagine two different customers entering a search, one uses ‘laptop bag’, the other ‘laptop case’, would you expect them to get the same products displayed? Or customers searching for ‘lightbulbs’ when the retailer has what they want all categorised as ‘lamps’. Change the categorisation to match the search term frequency and it’s fair to say sales will likely increase. And searches that give a zero return would reveal what a customer wants to buy that the retailer doesn’t stock.

A final thought. Here’s a different, and equally fun online game. Anton Wallén has created GeoGuessr, an experimental game that drops players into a location in Google Street View and challenges them to guess where in the world they’re located.

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Could useful data be mined out of it?

 

 

 

Interactive photos, new buildings and the London skyline.

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The Guardian has put together this interesting interactive photo series to illustrate the  effect of the ever-changing London skyline and how new construction of larger and taller buildings will change it. The Gherkin, The Shard, The Leadenhall Building (the Cheesegrater), The Heron Tower, and 20 Fenchurch Street (the Walkie-Talkie) have made their mark on London, but there are many more to follow.

From an education design perspective it’s interesting to come across the use of self-discovery to help engage with the message and learning content.

Whilst on the subject of these new buildings, here’s a beautifully shot time lapse of the Cheesegrater being built by filmmakers Dan Lowe and Paul Raftery.

Fascinating data visualisation

Interesting way to show the daily complexity and volumes of air traffic across the UK and Europe in a way that is both cinematic and exciting to watch.

From the NATS blog at: nats.aero/blog/2014/11/take-guided-tour-uk-skies/

Interesting use of long scroll for storytelling

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 08.05.48A beautiful BBC News feature tells the story of Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov who became the first human to perform a spacewalk as part of the Voskhod 2 mission.

The story is told using long scroll to tell the story featuring photos, interviews, and video.

Great example of user driven learning content.

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Sweet example of explorable user driven learning content. All delivered with a simple and elegant graphic style.

Thank you Harveys Water Softners

Using web technology to show scale

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 11.09.31I blogged on this subject a while ago. Here’s another example to add. The creator Josh Worth describes it as a tediously accurate scale model of the solar system. I love the simplicity and humour.

The planets are scrolled to horizontally or jumped to via a series of buttons at the top of the page. In addition, Worth includes writing out in the vast nothingness of space to give a better feel for exactly how much of it there actually is.

Thank you Josh.

I was talking about the planets with my 5-year-old daughter the other day. I was trying to explain how taking a summer vacation to Mars in the future will be a much bigger undertaking than a trip to Palm Springs (though equally as hot). I kept trying to describe the distance using metaphors like “if the earth was the size of a golf ball, then Mars would be across the soccer field” etc., but I realized I didn’t really know much about these distances, besides the fact that they were really large and hard to understand. Pictures in books, planetarium models, even telescopes are pretty misleading when it comes to judging just how big the universe can be. Are we doing ourselves a disservice by ignoring all the emptiness?

So I thought I would see if a computer screen could help make a map of a solar system that’s a bit more accurate (while teaching myself a few things about javascript, SVGs and viewports along the way).

Not that pixels are any better at representing scale than golfballs, but they’re our main way of interpreting most information these days, so why not the solar system?

Slick example of web based infographics

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Just spent time on the bigfacts 2014. Brilliant example of information design. Love the way the tiles flip to reveal the source data, which can then be downloaded. Took a while to find the back button though, otherwise a great example of how to present complex info and data in a simple way. http://ccafs.cgiar.org/bigfacts2014/#

Thank you http://ccafs.cgiar.org/