Hurricane Sandy in Wind Map

If you haven’t yet checked out Wind Map by, now might be the most dramatic view you might see in a while. Using hourly data from the National Digital Forecast Database, it shows the organic flow of wind over terrestrial US. It uses HTML5 Canvas so you do need a modern browser to see it. Here’s a live GIF snapshot of it from Monday night (Oct 29, 2012) of the Hurricane Sandy. Click through the image for a higher quality version. And if you like it enough, you can even buy a high resolution print.

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iPhone vs Foursquare: comparing what they know about me

One of the biggest technology news this week has been the announcement made by Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden, researchers at O’Reilly, that theiPhone keeps a log of every location you have been to over the past one year and more. One could argue that it isn’t really news but it definitely is a rude surprise to most people. More so because the researchers also made a tool which makes it super easy for anyone to easily parse the contents of the file their own iPhone has been keeping on them.

Though I agree that saving an indefinite history of sensitive location data without explicit user notification is a terrible oversight at the least, I was also tempted to see what my own data held. So I went ahead and here’s what it looks like.

My iPhone faithfully recorded my road trip halfway across the country, my SXSW visit to Austin, Bay Area and LA trips and also my trip to Michigan and Ohio. I think it makes a very interesting sharing object at this level of zoom. Especially because I have been voluntarily giving that data to Foursquare anyway. Foursquare is a lot sparser than the iPhone data but it has more explicit knowledge of the exact business/venue I went to as opposed to the iPhone data that can only be used to make a reasonable guess. However, overall the data that the iPhone has been accumulating is obviously more exhaustive.

I am curious to run more detailed analysis on my own data, and possibly compare it with other people I know and other data sources I have to see what interesting stuff I can find. For example, it would be cool to see how much time my wife and I spend with each other and how it correlates to how many steps I took that day, what I ate, or what music I listened to.

Are we really as unique and different as we like to believe or are we just predictable dots on the map? At a higher aggregate level, data from cellphone carriers has already been used to find that we actually are quite predictable!

Religious stereotypes visualized using Web Seer

Blame it on the Voices covered a venn diagram published by reddit user prateekmi2 today which shows the search terms that people use for different religions on Google search. It exposes the different words associated with different religions and the common words are equally interesting.

venn diagram

Web Seer is another visualization tool built specifically for comparing and contrasting google search suggestions for two different search terms. I decided to augment the venn diagram above with the web seer visualization – it’s just another way to present the same information.

As you can see from the visualization, “stupid” is the most frequent word used on Google to complete the sentence “Why are muslims so …” that is also used to complete the sentence “Why are christians so …”. Other common words for both religions are “intolerant” and “hateful”. On the extremes,the words associated with Muslims are “angry” and “violent” while those associated with Christians are “judgmental” and “mean”.

muslims christians

Contrasted with the unique words associated with Muslims, those associated with Jews are “cheap”, “successful” and “smart”. However, the interesting common word for both Muslims and Jews implies “Why are Muslims and Jews so hated?”

muslim jews

According to this visualization, there is nothing in common between words associated with Jews and Christians, however, the original Venn diagram above found the word “annoying” to be common enough.

jews christians


India is a democratic country with separation of church and state. However, though it’s dominantly Hindu it still hosts one of the largest Muslim populations in the world in terms of absolute numbers. I was curious to see how the two religions compare on Google. There were zero search suggestions for the term “Why are Hindus so …” so for this case I shortened the search terms to “Why are Hindu” and “Why are Muslim”. Unfortunately, there were no words commonly associated with the two religions but it was interesting to see Hindus’ discontent with the movie Avatar and the color of the depictions of their gods.

muslims hindus