Monthly Archives: November 2007

An Old Data Visualization

This is the original map of the Cholera Outbreak of 1854 as drawn by John Snow. I just finished reading The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson and the way he describes John Snow as being a revolutionary individual in the science of epidemiology made me want to investigate the original London 1854 Cholera outbreak map even further. Evidently what made Snow so unique during the outbreak of 1854 was his ability to focus on the tiniest of details (like the crack in the cesspool of 40 Broad St.) and then zoom way out to see macro trends like who was going where for their water. Aside from helping to end one of the deadliest outbreaks in a dense urban environment, he also began modern medical cartography (and data-viz) as we know it – overlaying different sets of data over the same map to spot trends.

What makes this map so special is that at the time it was drawn, the vast majority of people thought Cholera was transmitted by miasma – or foul air. The scattered dots (Cholera deaths) alone would seem to support this theory, but by simply adding the proximity to water pumps and then overlapping the streets to show how people traveled (on foot), one can clearly see that the Broad Street pump (marked with an “X” in the center of lots of the dots) might have had something to do with the outbreak. Its a swarm map and the pump is at the center.

Sarcos’ Exoskeleton

I never thought that hoverboard from Back to the Future II would ever get knocked off my #1 Christmas item spot, but I guess we all have to grow up at some point and wish for a Humanoid Robot exoskeleton. Sarcos Robotics has an exoskeleton developed for the US Army that boosts human strength over 10-fold while allowing the wearer complete mobility. Check it out:

The craziest thing about this video comes at the end when they start talking about how you can step out of your exoskeleton and it becomes an autonomous robot performing tasks while the wearer goes off and does something else. Imagine an exoskeleton ghostworld (the robot is the body and the wearer is human spirit) – late at night the ghosts of you are out getting the mundane tasks done (dropping off laundry in your stead, chopping wood, delivering a package across town) while you’re at home asleep or playing with your kids – or is that more like the Sprint commercial – I don’t know.

Trolling the Archives of Maeda’s Simplicity

(via Maeda’s Simplicity Blog)

I was looking around at some past posts from Maeda’s Simplicity blog and came upon this:

His subsequent blog post goes through differing opinions of some top executives in the technology industry, how some are in the software-supports-hardware camp – which is foolhardy given recent developments (it’s all about the service). Think about it. It is the the service/software that maintains the experience once the device has done what it’s supposed to (hopefully) and become a transparent window – drawn the user in. The software engages the user daily and keeps them wrapped in the brand. It keeps the user a CMS update away form any message you want to put out there.

Everyone went gaga over the iPhone but without killer connectivity and software, its just a sexy piece of plastic with a Li-ion battery. Thats why I find the Android platform so tantalizing – it’s totally open and ready for killer ActionScripters to migrate over some of their knowledge/skill to develop killer apps.

Anyway its a great read – both are. His blog (daily) and his post.

New Bar/Restaurant on Blvd. East

I’ve decided to start contributing to outside.in by linking this (my) blog. I don’t see any users from Weehawken (The ‘Hawk) yet on outside.in so I thought I’d spearhead this effort. To begin, I’d like to post some information about a new restaurant on Blvd. East and Pershing Rd. called Charritos (this used to be a Korean restaurant – but it closed before I moved here). I’m not sure if rumor and conjecture is acceptable to post so I’ll begin with something true and then we’ll continue to conjecture. A few of the neighbors around here have been anxiously awaiting the completion of whatever was going to be occupying the big yellow building on Pershing Rd & Blvd. East in The ‘Hawk because it’s such prime real estate. The views from that structure must be unbeatable. When the Charritos sign went up a bunch of us got excited because margaritas + that view would make for a perfect evening on a night we wanted to get a drink but didn’t feel like going back to Manhattan after coming home from work. But it is taking forever – with months on end that no work appears to be getting done (we peek in the window every now and then). The “news” is that the inside is now gutted and work seems to be ongoing (a few days a week) with pick-up trucks going in and out and landscaping being done to the exterior.

Rumor has it that it all comes down to the liquor-license and Weehawken is notoriously bad about giving out new ones. if you remember, Criollo on 48th St. had a full bar ready to go but folded before it got stocked with anything but soft-drinks.

The ‘Hawk needs restaurants. The demographics of this neighborhood are skewing younger and younger every month (just look at the bus lines at 9am) and we need a way to support the community instead of relying on Manhattan or Hoboken every time we’d like to eat out and/or socialize. I’m not trying to turn Weehawken is into Smith St. in Brooklyn (although I wouldn’t mind), I’m just advocating a more self-sustaining system.

Anyway, if anyone knows what the deal with Charritos is, speak up – I’m dying for a cold margarita.

See Map

Outside.In

I’m a huge fan of Steven Johnson. Between his blog, Maeda’s Simplicity and Kottke, my morning reading/thinking time has ballooned in recent months. Johnson has a newsih (1 year old) venture called outside.in that deals with hyperlocal content by indexing content based on distance using some new tag standards. I posted a link yesterday to an essay of his which deals with this new indexing concept (read pothole paradox) so check out outside.in.

Method Acting for Photography


Buenos Aires: Street Art / Arte Callejero, originally uploaded by ClixYou.

I’m off to Argentina and Uruguay on Thursday, November 29, 2007. I’m super excited because I just picked up a Seagull 107 TLR – with “three element picture taking lens”. From what Liz tells me, due to economic difficulties, Uruguayan and Argentinian cities were frozen in architectural time at some point in the 1970′s, with cityscapes today looking like sets of that time-period. She mentioned that even with the cars on the road you’ll see more old ones than new ones. Well, if I’m going to be visiting that environment, why not shoot it with equipment from that same time period? Sure my Seagull is new (ebay-new), but the lens and mechanics of that camera have changed little since it was first introduced. Consider it a kind of “method-acting” for photography.

Imitation is the Finest Form of Flattery

I was just looking over designcharts.com (because evidently Designers Are the New Rock Starsâ„¢) Really? Anyway I was looking over some of the top hits from designcharts.com and saw the work of British designer(?)/studio(?) un.titled. Some very handsome work there, especially their Sheridan & Co. site. I was immediately reminded of one of my all-time favs, Urban Silo. Obviously these interface concepts are virtually identical, and who knows – maybe Section Seven worked on the Sheridan & Co. project. Maybe its a straight-up copy – it’s a nice one if it is. These days with aesthetics moving so rapidly and interface concepts in one day and out the next – I don’t suppose it really matters.