Guardian DataStore Visualisation Competition

A post over on the Guardian DataStore site last week announced a competition based around visualising data from the Guardian DataStore: Build stuff with our data and win a Flip Mino HD camcorder.

There are two categories for submissions:

1) The best user experience for understanding meaning in data, and
2) The best tool for web developers to build other things with data

I’ve posted quite a few recipes so far that describe different ways of engaging with the data, many of which you can find from posts categorised here with visualisation, so it’d be great to see people trying to run with them.

Many of the recipes I’ve come up with start by getting data out of the spreadsheets as CSV, so that it can then be passed to other services, such as Many Eyes Wikified or Yahoo Pipes; or JSON, so that it can be pulled in to a web page. (My very work in progress Guardian Datastore explorer can be used to generate URIs that run queries on Google spreadsheets, which may be of some use if you want to get started on running SQL like queries on spreadsheet data.)

As far as I know, know one has explored using tools like the JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit yet, which could be interesting from the point of view nice UIs, as well as the developer perspective (e.g. a nice set of hooks in to the DataStore from visualisation toolkits or code frameworks). And then of course there are plenty of other more traditional chart toolkits out there…

If you’re after something a little more exotic, how about something like Thematic Mapping, HeatMap API or CloudMade on the geoviz front, though the problem of geocoding DataStore data would have to be solved first (Yahoo Placemaker might be handy there?); the Timetric or the MIT Simile Timeplot or Timeline tools for displaying information against a time axis (none of which have, to date, and as far as I know, been combined with a Fourier Analysis tools to help identify periodicities in the charted data); or how about finding a use for TimeMap, which combines MIT Simile Timeline widgets with Google maps..?

For truly open ended visualisations, using something like Processing may be the way to go: there’s already a Processing wrapper for the OpenPlatform API, but I’m not sure if anyone has provided an easy way (as yet) to pull DataStore content into it. Integration with Processing.js, a Javascript implementation of Processing that makes things like Obsessing possible, is also something that could open up a lot of opportunities for making use of the data?

On the other hand, if it’s analysis you’re after, it might be interesting to see what could be done if the DataStore spreadsheets could be integrated with various stats analysis packages (is there a variant of R as a st of Javascript libraries, I wonder?!)

PS Just for the record, I’m not eligible to enter the competition just at the moment…

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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