CPSC 683 - InfoVis

exploring information visualization


D'Arcy Norman

visualizing “presence” in online discussions

My master’s thesis involved applying the Community of Inquiry framework to code discussion posts by 3 presences as indicated in the content of each post: “Teaching Presence”, “Social Presence” and “Cognitive Presence”. Here’s a view of a semester’s posts, some… Continue Reading →

visualizing discussion threads

For my master’s thesis, I compared online discussions in a graduate education course, some hosted in Blackboard (before we switched to D2L), some in WordPress (which is still going strong – this class site is running on it). Part of… Continue Reading →

global wind atlas

Greenland is a little windier than I thought… via Global Wind Atlas, which calculates potential for wind power generation based on wind density, speed and frequency. https://globalwindatlas.info


I’m tweaking my visualization to prep for Tuesday, and this one actually made me say “holy crap! I didn’t realize that!” Insight from data I’ve been staring at for almost 2 years. Nice.

personal cancermetrics

This week’s topic is personal metrics and visualization. I’ve been sharing some typical things – GPS tracks, activity tracking, heart rate, steps walked, etc. And then I realized, there is one particular personal metric and visualization that means more to… Continue Reading →

where we went

9 easy runs to loosen things up for the season. GPS tracks show we basically did laps, with some variation.

personal metrics on the hill

A SUPER slow and easy first day on skis this season. I’m still in the discovery phase of reflection on my skiing, so I’m collecting a bunch of data. I wonder if it will be useful someday…

Interactive layers of data

accounting and sculpting

divergence and convergence

updated strava heatmap

Strava just updated their global heatmap, visualizing all GPS tracks uploaded to the service. I turned off all roads and map labels, but it’s still pretty easy to make out the Calgary area… https://labs.strava.com/heatmap/#9.23/-114.91460/50.60659/hot/all

radial detail explosion

This is from a project page from a Spanish architecture firm. Looks interesting, but the radial layout and zoom/exploding details caught my eye. http://pyoarquitectos.com/by-the-way/reconstruccion-de-vehiculos-de-la-mirada/2/

bubbling over time

I’m playing with my data again, trying to dial in how I want to set it up as an interactive visualization. Still really really struggling with that. But – I did come up with a new simple bubble chart, that… Continue Reading →


I’m apparently thinking in circles lately. This is from a sample of images generated by Circos, which is apparently a DNA analysis thingamawhacky. The layered info, segmentation by type, and connections between segments provide some pretty rich and deep visualization… Continue Reading →

motion illusions and persistence of vision

I used this one as part of a keynote presentation at the Canadian eLearning Conference a few years ago – wound up having about 500 researchers and professionals sitting through a simulated LSD trip together. Highly recommended. Embiggen the image… Continue Reading →

photo map

The macOS Photos app has a really nice map view, using GPS location metadata from photos taken in a region. It’d be awesome to combine that with a timeline slider control… The clustering of photos taken near each other is… Continue Reading →

natural visualization

I saw this in an article on augmented reality and data visualization – almost all AR mockups show incredibly garish and vibrant artificial floating baubles, but this use of natural textures and shapes would fit much better in an AR… Continue Reading →

meaningless scores

not sure I’ve ever had a perfect score in anything. the numbers. they mean nothing…

not-stacked-bars to emphasize differences

I saw this on BoingBoing, looking at gender differentiation in US jobs. At first, I thought “hey! that’s not just a stacked bar chart! What an interesting way to present the data!” and then I looked more closely, and realized… Continue Reading →

Massive error bars

From an article on the NYTimes, on a recent spike in fossil fuel emissions. CO2 Emissions Were Flat for Three Years. Now They’re Rising Again. https://nyti.ms/2jmn2V0

almost interactive data

I spent the day wrestling with ChartJS, and slowly remembering how to iterate through arrays and build things that do stuff. I’m pretty out of practice. What an eye-opener. I need to build things more often. Anyway. This is almost… Continue Reading →

energy usage as proxy for activity

Enlighted has an energy monitoring tool that can be used to map “hot spots” in a building. This could probably be mapped onto occupancy/availability pretty easily. Combine it with RF signal mapping to figure out where wifi devices are throughout… Continue Reading →

heatmap of big matrices

I’m trying a new heatmap library that was developed for visualizing genetic and cancer data. It looks like it could be really useful for my dataset…

deck.gl geo viz from uber

some great looking geospatial visualizations are possible with this toolkit. You know. if you’re into mapping data onto maps. http://uber.github.io/deck.gl/#/documentation/layer-catalog/hexagon-layer full toolkit available on github: http://uber.github.io/deck.gl/

cancer survival rate changes

Data from an article in JAMA, chart by Chris Canipe at Axios, which tells the story of the data more clearly than the bar charts in the original article. Original article: https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/jnci/djx030 Axios chart: https://www.axios.com/axios-am-2507660413.html

music moods

a combined timeline/scatter/bubblegram, showing “moods” of music, by album. incredibly subjective, but the bubblegraphs smell like something that might work with my data… I saw it on Pinterest, so of course any provenance or author information is gone. It points… Continue Reading →


I’m playing around with a radar view of my data – using the chart in excel, and then building it in an interactive format using Chart.js (which is much less painful to use than D3.js)


After beating my head against several brick walls, trying to get D3.js to do something interesting, I gave Chart.js a shot. I’ve used it for a couple of years now to generate charts of personal metrics for my 100km thing…. Continue Reading →


Playing with the translation data. Crazy convergence and divergence of agreement over translated words…


I’m playing around with a D3.js demo that shows a heatmap for calendar-ish data. Trying to figure out if I can transmorgify my data into a format that D3 could handle…

visualization vs. decoration

this “infographic” posted to /r/dataisbeautiful makes me twitch. It’s purely decoration, rather than visualization. The images obscure the data in an attempt to show cleverness, rather than trying to tell a story of the data…

fun with digital signage

Today was “take your kid to work day” at my son’s school, so he got to tag along with me for the day. One of the projects we worked on was to make a graphic to advertise an upcoming workshop…. Continue Reading →

aggregate data layers

This sketch has 8 layers of data – 1 per semester – showing # of courses by faculty. The area of each square shows the total # of students in each faculty’s courses (square root of the number to convert… Continue Reading →

into the fourth dimension by onionskinning

Playing with layering to represent time, with x indication faculty (subject), y indicating # of courses, area = # of students… Update: I’ve since implemented this as an interactive bubble chart visualization. It works much better than I’d imagined –… Continue Reading →

World debt visualized

Holy. That’s a lot of debt. http://www.visualcapitalist.com/63-trillion-world-debt-one-visualization/ What struck me was the dual visualizations – area of the country representing the sheer dollar value, colour representing that amount as a share of GDP. Interesting. Japan’s kind of a mess, apparently…. Continue Reading →

LEGO calendar visualization

Interesting use of lego to visualize a calendar – and bonus marks for making it integrated. Apparently, taking a photo of the lego calendar with an app triggers google calendar somehow. http://vitaminsdesign.com/projects/lego-calendar/

unity mockup

this is a super crude quick Unity mockup of a subset of my data. I wanted to test to see if an idea might work – I think it might. Now, to flesh out the concept a little more. more… Continue Reading →

volumetric data visualization

We’ve seen the Citi volumetric data visualization prototype before, but this sample image resonates with me for how I might make my data project visible in 3D space (and interactive). via http://8ninths.com/case-study/citi-holographic-workstation/


the crazy wind today, in perspective…

curriculum mapping needs infovis

This is a great example of how data is used at the institutional level – the university is working on mapping curricula in all faculties, to document what kinds of things are done in each course/program/department/faculty, and how that maps… Continue Reading →

visualizing bots in twitter feeds

This, from Wired – this shows twitter feeds for “people”, “companies” and “bots” – different activity patterns, with bursts vs. streams… image found on Wired UK archive: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/bot-or-not

Life-sized paper elephants

Robert Kelly taught a “design thinking” course in the TI, with students split into groups for the duration of the course. Their task was for each group to create a life-sized African elephant, using only paper and cardboard. The groups… Continue Reading →

Sculptures of form and light

This was a sidewalk-scale art project in Houston, with giant flowers lit from beneath showing various colours. Sometimes, they were in random cycle mode, sometimes, they seemed to be coordinated to show patterns. This would be an interesting and walkable… Continue Reading →

post speed-dating mockup

After the project speed-dating session this week, I got a LOT of fantastic feedback and new ideas  – thank you all for that! I sketched some of the concepts about layering the info and pivoting to collapse a dimension to… Continue Reading →

Miguel Chevalier visualizing motion and interaction

A crazy series of interactive visualizations of motion. What if people in a space bend the space time fabric like the traditional visualization of planets in orbit around the sun? How could these visualizations be used to provide feedback on… Continue Reading →

MS Research cognitive API for photo analysis

I dabbled with Microsoft Research’s “cognitive API” to mockup a concept of computational ethnography – using software to crack open media that might be used to document an event – to expose metadata generated about the content of an image,… Continue Reading →

seeing the invisible

still thinking about motion and traces of events, and got thinking about the particle accelerator at CERN. They use detectors and visualizations to make subatomic particles and their tracks visible to the naked eye. Snapshots of incredibly small and incredibly… Continue Reading →

traces of motion

For my research, I’m thinking a lot about how to visualize histories of motion – traces of where people have been in a space – and I keep coming back to something like tracks in snow. The space is defined,… Continue Reading →


Well, “productivity.” I picked up a Luxafor USB LED “busy” indicator last year – one of the fun parts of open office environments – and it integrates with DeskTime. I figured, why not see what it can do? So, I… Continue Reading →

Birds as visualizations and data

When Lora guest-taught infovis, she talked about the drawers full of birds at natural history museums being a physical visualization – location, morphology, etc. This NYTimes article describes taking the birds out of storage, and using the gunk that’s built… Continue Reading →

Building utilization pivot heatmap

I. Yarbrough, Q. Sun, D.C. Reeves, K. Hackman, R. Bennett, D.S. Henshel, Visualizing building energy demand for building peak energy analysis, In Energy and Buildings, Volume 91, 2015, Pages 10-15, ISSN 0378-7788, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2014.11.052. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378778814010081) Keywords: Energy visualization; Building energy demand;… Continue Reading →

Animated heatmap floorplan

Thinking more about non-linear visualizations of my data, something like this might work… From http://enterpriseiotsolution.com/smart-building/

Heatmap of shoppers

From a 2014 article on Business Insider http://www.businessinsider.com/how-retailers-track-shoppers-in-heat-maps-2014-1 A company called Prism Skylabs (ominous!) (and their website doesn’t load now…) uses cameras (and computer vision?) to track where people walk, linger, and interact in a store. The pitch is that… Continue Reading →

physics articles by keyword

A crazy visualization of physics articles by keyword, via Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/relativity-s-influence-is-still-going-strong-on-its-100th-birthday/

Activity tracking

Still recovering from a cold, so I took it pretty easy on the rower this morning. My watch tracks heart rate every 15 seconds while working out, making for an interesting chart. Some extra info, though. The rower is in… Continue Reading →

Motion blur sketching

I shot this at a workshop at UBC a few years ago. The workshop was called “You can Draw!” and was based around having participants learning to do some basic sketching shapes and techniques. I tried a long exposure photo… Continue Reading →

Thinking about timelines

I just (finally) set up a Pinterest account. Judging from my first page of pins, I’m apparently thinking a lot about timelines with data layered together…

Pixels via photosynthesis

From http://itsybitsymag.com/2017/01/21/growing-portraits-grass-artists-ackroyd-harvey/ Ackroyd and Harvey grow walls of grass, and play with light and shade to coax the blades to have controlled levels of photosynthesis. Well-lit blades grow deep green, shaded blades are whiter. This would make an interesting display… Continue Reading →

fave colours

Another one from /r/dataisbeautiful. Favourite colours of reddit users.

fuzziness via deepdream

after talking about “fuzzy” visualizations in class yesterday, I thought I’d try feeding a visualization of my data through Google’s Deepdream AI hallucinogenic software. Fuzzy…

emoji scatterplot

playing with different ways to look at my project data – this time, using a scatterplot generated by scatterplot.online, with data grouped by faculty, sized by # of students, and with the tokens being emojis to represent the semester. Not… Continue Reading →

GPS tracks

in light of this morning’s whiteness, I exported GPS tracks from my phone (using the Ski Tracks app) as KML files, and then imported those into Google Earth. Hoping to get back out to the mountains soon…

LEGO-ing my data

Actually, this was surprisingly useful. Will be exploring more. Need more lego…

data sketch

thinking about constructive visualization, and playing with ideas to map my data into Lego space…

flight routes of the world

There’s no bundling or fisheye-ing of routes, and it’s difficult to make sense of individual routes in the jumble of spaghetti, but even this “all” view shows useful patterns – you can see hubs, branching points, gaps. Interactive version via… Continue Reading →

Space utilization within a home

From GothamCulture, a link to an article on Life Edited: Each dot on the diagram below represents the location of one family member during a 10-minute interval. Not surprisingly, most families spend much of their evenings congregating in the kitchen… Continue Reading →

thinking about violin plots

Encoding density data in a chart – I’m also wondering how I could adapt these to show temporal data, by grouping…

9 trillion gallons of water

As hurricanes Harvey and Irma dumped water on Houston, the numbers were beyond comprehension. How do you make sense of 9 trillion gallons of water? That’s a lot, right? The Washington Post came up with this: It’s not a chart… Continue Reading →

Sankey mockup

I’ve been frustrated because I’ve been looking at my project data (space bookings for courses in the Taylor Institute) with such a rigid timeline/calendar perspective. I wanted to try something different, to see what a non-chronological interpretation of the data… Continue Reading →

earth temperature timeline

This chart from Randall Munroe (XKCD, What If?) is an interesting use of vertical axis to show the sheer scale of 22,000 years of climate change (and to show that recent warming is waaaaaay beyond anything seen before). At first,… Continue Reading →

arctic sea ice extent via NYTimes

via the New York Times – the live version of this animates the ice data per year.

Max daily temps

I saw this on /r/dataisbeautiful – I like the way it shows a range of values, in “lanes” corresponding to a month.The data is aggregated over 66 years, but still shows patterns, extremes, and norms. via https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/71r4gj/max_daily_temperatures_in_mountain_view_ca/

sculpture of a performance

Playing with tools from stage direction to visualize groups of people and spatial arrangement.

Data Sketch 001

First, hesitant sketch of the data. I picked a subset to start – classes on mondays during f2017 – and explored with an aggregate timeline.

historic traffic fatalities in the US

Interesting, but missing one more bit about total number of vehicles driven each year. Rate of fatalities is waaaaaaay down since the middle of last century, but total fatalities are still high – are more vehicles on the road now?… Continue Reading →

Hurricane damage by building

From the New York Times – damage to individual buildings from hurricanes on St. Martin / Sint Maarten. I’d be curious to see population density as well.

Strava route heatmap

1 year of aggregate ride tracking data for NW Calgary, showing “more popular” and “less popular” routes ridden by members of Strava.com. I contributed ride data for commuting between my house in Tuscany to/from the UofC, and some rides out… Continue Reading →

3 years of growth

My son outgrew his snowboard, so we got a new one to replace it. The old one got him through 3 seasons of learning – he’s now far better than I’ll ever be – and it struck me, seeing both… Continue Reading →

few data points

I got this after getting some blood work done. 2 samples do not make a very useful line graph.

raw numbers vs. per-thousand residents

census data on “high earners” by province. Globe and Mail made a chart of raw numbers, but it’s misleading without the “what proportion of the population is that?” per-thousand-residents calculation… Update: I made a quick version using Les’ calculations:


Students “vote with their feet” during a session in the TI. human-scale visualization of… what?

axes sketch

I use two-axis sketches to help me think about tools and systems, and how they interconnect or lead to different kinds of uses. This one is a super-early diagram of some of the online learning tools at UofC (with only… Continue Reading →

Mapping data

Hand-drawing a map of the world from memory under time constraint is hard…

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