data viz

languages are you

just as the family in the swiss family robinson was not named robinson in the book, the 7 dwarfs from snow white and the 7 dwarfs also had no names until disney got involved. these now iconic dwarf aptronyms have since been translated into every language in which disney has found a market and i have made it my morning’s duty to translate them back.

i was reading an old book once that had the very curious phrase “translated out of german" on its title page. i assumed "out of" was just a colloquialism for the much more standard "from" but it wasn’t until i was discussing it with a friend that i learned what it actually meant. apparently the original text was written in latin, then translated into german, and the book i was reading was a translation out of it [into english]. it was the whisper-down-the-lane method of literature!

this dwarf chart is thus a translation out of various languages back to english.

ie. dopey (english) > cucciolo (italian) > puppy (english)

i used google translate for all the terms and was pleased at the proficiency of its engine. when i entered the list of 7 names, it would immediately recognise them as disney’s dwarfs and give me a perfect translation. entering each name separately, without context was the only way to get google to stumble.

you wonder how the utopian present leads to the dystopian future? i’m not totally certain, however it probably has something to do with google robots trying to foil my understanding of forest dwarfs and their associated personalities.


i used this list and other online discussions to determine the dwarf names in other languages. obviously, the lists and my chosen translation service are not without error.

"When residents of Ecatepec, Mexico look to the hills, they now see the faces of crime victims staring back at them. Enormous photographic portraits cover concrete homes as part of a community art project that captures what has become a Mexican obsession: visualizing victimhood or, more broadly, turning cold, mind-numbing data back into real people."

I just got back from a vacation in Oceania (which is why I haven’t posted in a couple weeks). The flight path home included a leg from Melbourne to Los Angeles. During the 15 hours of sitting, I thought to myself that it must be one of the longest flights in the world.  As it turns out, it isn’t even in the top 10; it’s the 12th longest.  I’ve mapped the geodesics of the top 20 commercial flights here. With the recent problems at Qantas (and with airlines in general) some of these may change soon, but these are the current paths. Note that, because I’ve used a Robinson projection, some flights that go over the Arctic Circle appear longer than they are, so I’ve added a color scheme and listed the lengths on the map.

Data source:

raynor ganan signature masala

one of my 2012 goals is to create a raynor ganan signature masala™—a sekrit spice blend that people will want to flavor everything from their eggs to their popcorn with. to do so, i’ve been scouring the local spice markets for exotic ingredients from far off corners of the globe. i have a rudimentary concoction right now but i’ve come to a very important realisation: namely, while i know what spices i like, i have no idea how spices go together. to help me better understand the synergy among turmeric and thyme and coriander and cream of tartar, i developed this chart which breaks down established spice blends into their (sometimes) shared ingredients. and now i am one step closer to inventing the next ranch seasoning.


on another flavor note: if you have any advice for me about what ingredients should go into the raynor ganan signature masala™, i would really really like to hear from you. perhaps you know of a rare local spice that the international flavor market overlooks. maybe you grow a special aphrodisiac mushroom in your basement and want to tell me how tasty it is. perhaps there was a fictional spice in a science fiction novel that you want me to investigate. let me know!

As we all know, many of the greatest distance runners come from Kenya and Ethiopia, and the world’s fastest sprinter (Usain Bolt) is Jamaican.  How do the best runners from other countries compare?

These maps show fastest race time by country relative to the world record for 100 m, 1500 m, 10 km, and a marathon. The data are based on men’s records, and do not include wind-assisted times. A sample calculation is provided to show the meaning of the scale.  All times were divided by the world record time, and then converted to percentage slower than world record time.

Unfortunately, despite the source having thousands of completion times for each race, only a handful of countries are represented for each race length; gray shading means there were no data. Despite this limitation, you can still identify which regions rise to the top, and which are a bit slower.

Data source:

EDIT: Thanks for the feedback regarding missing countries!  Because the country codes change and multiple standards are available, several were not joined correctly in the GIS.  I’ve fixed as many as I can, so the new map has more countries displayed.  Thanks again!

I’m thrilled to launch my new app Reporter today. I’m indebted to the hard work of Drew Breunig and Friends of The Web for helping me finally bring this idea to life.

In 2011 Drew built the first working version of the app for me, and named it “Reporter”. It didn’t look like much, but the original app worked perfectly throughout 2012 and the data it produced culminated in my 2012 Feltron Annual Report

Reporter’s random prompts to answer a survey had made tracking the year a breeze and helped me to investigate questions that would have been impossible to answer using other methods. I was interested in who I spent time with, but to track this in an ongoing basis is a full-time job. I added questions for what I was wearing, eating or drinking and if I was working or not… and we streamlined the process to ensure that a report only took seconds to answer. We also added in background sampling to get information from the phone on the weather, my location and the ambient noise level.

That app is now all grown up. You can customize all the questions, and turn on a range of sensors to gather background data, and the app will visualize your responses. If you are interested in a lightweight means of exploring your behavior, give it a try.

Download on iTunes or visit our website.

movie magic

i was watching sense & sensibility in the back of my neighbour’s minivan while on a stakeout the other night and realized that professors snape, trelawney, and umbridge had each somehow apparated into the cast. my neighbour (who is a former hogwarts alumna) pointed out that cornelius fudge and madam pomfrey were also in it. was this a record for the most harry potter wizards in a non-harry potter film? i decided to abandon the surveillance (there was only one pair of high-powered binoculars anyway) and scrape some data from the imdb.

the project turned out to be bigger than i expected. there were hundreds of wizards and tens of thousands of movies in which they appear. in the end, when the pixie dust settled, i was left with at least 23 movies infiltrated by 4 or more potter people. i made this chart (click to engorgio) to show the tangled relationships among them.

here are a few observations:

  • the movie with the most harry potter wizards in it is vanity fair with an unprecedented 9* wizards. 
  • the muggle that these wizards most like to work with is johnny depp who stars in 4 of these movies (3 of which were directed by tim burton).
  • horace slughorn (a known attention whore) has wormed his way into no fewer than 5 of these movies, the most of any wizard.
  • conspiracy theory: 6 of these movies were in theatres before the first harry potter book was released. there is even historical evidence that 4 wizards worked on crook’s anonymous which was released back in 1962 before magic was invented.
  • the sorting hat and aragog were in king ralph? i’ll have to rewatch that one on tonight’s stakeout.


fwiwthis program works a magic all its own.

update (3/22/2011): hello kottke companions! the last time we bumped into each other was here, and if you don’t mind me saying so, the intervening year has been very kind to your physical appearances. here are some other information visualisation thingy-doos that you might enjoy.

update (3/25/2011): the chart has been updated here to reflect two additional 4-wizard movies (in bruges & nanny mcphee returns). additionally, mafalda hopkirk has been linked to more movies and spelling errors have been corrected. xenophilius now rivals slughorn for appearing in the most films with other wizards. this list is worth a perusal. thanks to sarah, matthew, michael, and jen.

*and also at least one extra who worked on both films.

I have previously defended Portland’s weather. The point I made was that, while it absolutely rains more often (more days per year) in Portland than most other large cities, we get less rain overall (in terms of depth of water). These maps visualize the latter point using average precipitation from 30-yr normals (1981-2010). Note that almost half of Portland’s precipitation occurs in November-January, but the combined precipitation in July and August is less than 4% of the annual total. To emphasize this seasonality, I’ve also mapped normals for July and December, when Portland is drier and wetter, respectively, than most of the country.

Data source:

Like all the infographics and dataviz you’ve been seeing in your feed?

Here are 5 tools for creating infographics and visualizations:

1. piktochart


3. info.gram


5. Tableau

Here are 2 tools for diagrams and wireframing:

1. OmniGraffle

2. Balsamiq

And here are 3 tools for other types of visual communication:

1. Make a video like the RSA Animated Series.

2. Make a timeline with Timeline JS

3. Or put together a remote presentation with

Click here for more in-depth descriptions of these programs.