Author: Ralph Straumann

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Flag geekery

Alas, New Zealand’s proposition for a new flag design has been voted against a few weeks ago: But flags are always an interesting topic of discussion, from a design, cultural, historic, or simply aesthetic point of view. Via my friend Frank Ostermann I’ve learnt about...

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Visualising the last glacial maximum correctly

A few days ago, Swiss Geoportal (/the Swiss federal geodata infrastructure) tweeted a link to a visualisation of the largest ice extent over Switzerland – i.e. the last glacial maximum, LGM for short: They used a rather famous map of the LGM and draped it...

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Switzerland tile map

(Blogpost auf Deutsch unter www.geo.ebp.ch) I believe in abstraction for conveying information, or ‘rough’ context for information, efficiently. Since a while, hex and square tile maps are all the rage in the US. Check out this post by the npr visuals team on the technique,...

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Finds III: Hadley Wickham, lying maps, and full stack geographers

→ Hadley Wickham, the Man Who Revolutionized R I don’t know, if Hadley Wickham is the most prolific R developer (could well be), but he is behind some very influential packages, e.g. ggplot2, plyr, reshape, lubridate, dplyr. Priceonomics featured an article about the statistician who is, “in his own...

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Ignite Zurich talk on Informational Magnetism

On July 3rd, I was invited to give a talk at Ignite Zurich. If you don’t know the format: it boils down to 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds giving you a total of 5 minutes stage time – pretty intense! I chose to make...

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Finds II

→ Google Sheep View If you are like me you love a good parody and hence this new Google product.   → What to do if your p-value is just over the arbitrary threshold for ‘significance’ of p=0.05? Matthew Hankins carried out an analysis of...

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Visualizing group sizes and inter-group flows

A few weeks ago, I came across the following graphics on Twitter: They depict voter share per party (including absentees, in grey) (top) and voter flows between different parties in the 2015 cantonal elections in Zurich. The graphics are produced by sotomo, a research company at the nexus...

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Finds I

→ The real reason American passenger trains are so bad “It’s not just that these services aren’t the best in the world and don’t deploy the most cutting-edge technology available. They are often truly abysmal, with travel times worse than what was possible 100 years...

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Slide design and public speaking

I have a Slideshare account that I use to publish slides of presentations I’ve held (if it’s okay to publish them, which is the case only very occasionally). Sometimes Slideshare sends me e-mail news that I more often trash than skim. But yesterday a post with the...

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Sunset on Mars

A  sunset on Mars: This picture been taken by NASA’s Curiosity Rover on the mission’s 956th Martian day (April 15, 2015). The colour has been “calibrated and white-balanced to remove camera artifacts” according to NASA. The colours are thus similar to what a human would perceive, although we might see...

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“You’ll never trust a map again”

is what BuzzFeed (really, BuzzFeed!?) named this instructionable video on map projections:   The point is not to distrust the map, obviously, but to have the necessary background knowledge in place to properly judge what you see. Actually a good thing to do with respect...

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On weather and climate change

Sometimes people tend to mistake weather (a short-term phenomenon) for climate (the long-term average). I recently came across this video in which astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the difference between the two. I think it’s a brilliant example of conveying complex concepts using a simple analogy. In...