Five short links

Grasschains
Photo by Peter Kurdulija

The Visualization Trap – The authors argue that visualizations are dangerous because they’re too persuasive, using accident reconstructions as an example where the computer-generated animation makes viewers more likely to take a strong position on the cause than witnesses to the actual event. I think that production values are a big part of this. We’re unconsciously impressed by the amount of money that someone spends on a presentation. It’s like peacock feathers, if they can expend that many resources on their argument, they must have a lot of confidence in it. That’s why commercials cost millions, and visualizations are just another high-cost way of telling stories, with the same unfair persuasive advantage as any other expensive medium

Statistical Intensity Map Creator – A neat little (commercial) Flash map for displaying US state data

Modest Maps – An awesome open-source project making it easy to include tile-based zoomable maps in either Flash or Python on the server side. One of the authors is Michal Migurski of Stamen, who produce some amazing visualizations

Extracting Place Semantics from Flickr Tags – Users are generating massive amounts of data by tagging photos with known locations. Can we use that information to build a rich database of information on places?

The Buzzer – A spooky Russian radio station that’s been broadcasting an enigmatic signal for decades. Some claim it’s just for atmospheric research, but is it actually a “dead man’s switch” for a nuclear apocalypse?

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