Posts Tagged ‘visualization’

Give Me My Data upgrade: New API, authorization, and data formats

Monday, July 4th, 2011

No one would be surprised to learn that almost all of the user-generated content websites use our personal data to sell advertisements. In fact 97% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising.[1] That’s why it’s important these sites provide as much access as possible to the real owners of our data‐us. After all, we put it there and allow them to use it in exchange for the use of their software. Seems like a fair trade if you ask me.

A year and a half ago Facebook didn’t provide any access. That’s why I created Give Me My Data, to help users reclaim and reuse their personal data they put on Facebook.

By giving more agency to users of online systems, Give Me My Data may have already impacted the nature of online application development. In November 2010, almost a year after I launched Give Me My Data, Facebook created their own service for users to export their profile from Facebook as a series of HTML pages. Unlike Give Me My Data, the Facebook service doesn’t allow you to select which data you want or to choose custom formats to export. It also doesn’t give you options for visualization like the custom network graphs that Give Me My Data offers.

I believe their motivation originates in part with my application, likely due to the popularity of Give Me My Data, and points to the potential usefulness of similar apps. While years down the road may reveal many other online systems giving users control over their data, I see this as a positive effect where the content we create, as well as the means to share and manage it, are democratized.

Meanwhile, the above also keeps me hard at work developing the Give Me My Data project. This week I rewrote the program to use Facebook’s new OAuth authorization, which also required rewriting all of the code that fetches the data. Previously it used the REST API which is being deprecated (sometime?) in the future. I also added new data types, fixed the CSV format (which had the rows and columns mixed-up), and added the possibility to export in the JSON data format.

Finally, in the data selector, I distinguished standard data and customized data types. When I say customized, I mean that I’ve written code that mashes together more than one data table and/or addresses a specific question. For example, right now users can select from two types of network graphs and corresponding formats. One describes the user’s relationship to their friends, and the other describes the user’s relationship to their friends, as well as all their friends’ relationships to each other in various graph description languages. This is how I made the network graph image below. I’m also interested in hearing other suggestions for custom queries I might add. The project will be open source on Github soon, so even code contributions will be welcome.

Anyway, please try out the new version. You may have to delete the app from your allowed applications and then re-authorize it if you’ve used it before. As usual, you can provide feedback on the application page, and you can also contact me on Twitter via @givememydata.

[1] “Google Financial Tables for Quarter ending June 30, 2009” Retrieved October 13, 2010

12 apps to track, share, and visualize personal data

Monday, July 4th, 2011

When it comes to personal data everyone’s first concern is usually privacy. But a lot of us want to share our data too, with friends, colleagues, and even complete strangers. While numbers have been used for centuries to improve the way we manufacture and do business, using them to quantify our personal lives is a recent phenomenon.

I’ve been thinking about this because one of my goals in creating Give Me My Data was to inspire others to reuse their data, and respond with images and objects they created. But I’m learning if you don’t know a programming language your choices are somewhat scattered and intimidating.

In a recent email exchange with Nicholas Felton, creator of daytum.com and other quality data products, I asked him what other user data sharing and/or visualization web applications he might have encountered while working on daytum.

Included in this article are the three apps he mentioned with my research plus nine additions of my own. All of the apps I mention help users access their own data to track, share, and/or visualize it either by recording it themselves or exporting it from another software. There’s a table at the end of the article to summarize and compare each.

Give Me My Data givememydata.com free

First, to give some context, Give Me My Data is a Facebook application that helps users export their data out of Facebook for reuse in visualizations, archives, or any possible method of digital storytelling. Data can be exported in common formats like CSV, XML, and JSON as well as customized network graph formats.

Status: operational, in-development

Daytum daytum.com free/$$

And to further contextualize, I’ll also address Daytum, an online app that allows users to collect, categorize, and share personal or other data. You can add any data that can be quantified or written down and organize and display it in many forms including bar and pie charts, plain text, and lists. There’s also a mobile site for quick submissions from your device or you can use their iphone app.

Status: operational, but not currently being developed

Geckoboard geckoboard.com $$

Geckoboard is a hosted real-time status board for all sorts of business (or personal) data. You can view web analytics, CRM, support, infrastructure, project management, etc., in one interface, on your computer or smart phone. To see data from other web services in your “dashboard” you add “widgets”—choose from a large list of APIs, give permissions, configure a variety of options, and see your data in a customized graph. Note though, this service is only for presenting data that is hosted elsewhere, and only in this interface. If you like looking at numbers all day, this is for you.

Status: operational

Track-n-Graph trackngraph.com free/$$

Track, graph, and share any information you can think of: your weight, gas mileage, coffee consumption, anything. The design is a little awkward, the graphs don’t display in Chrome or Safari (Mac), and as far as I can tell there’s no API, but the site seems very useful for storing and making simple graphs of your personal data. There are also various “templates” you can reuse to keep track of data like the Workout Tracker, which has fields for gender and age in addition to minutes you worked out, all of which are important in figuring other data (e.g. calories).

Status: operational

your.flowingdata.com your.flowingdata.com/ free

your.flowingdata lets you record your personal data with Twitter. With it you can collect, interact, customize views, and determine privacy by sending private tweets to your account. This project is created by Nathan Yau who writes Flowing Data and studies statistics at UCSD.

Status: operational, in-development

mycrocosm mycro.media.mit.edu free

Mycrocosm is a web service that allows you to track and share data and statistical graphs from the minutiae of daily life. Mycrocosm was developed by Yannick Assogba of the Sociable Media Group of the MIT Media Lab.

Status: operational, but not currently being developed

ManyEyes www-958.ibm.com free

ManyEyes is a project by the IBM Research and the IBM Cognos software group. On Many Eyes you can upload your own data and create visualizations, and view, discuss, and rate other’s visualizations and data sets. It is a great concept but it hasn’t evolved much since its original launch. In fact I’m finding the visualization technology has slowly devolved, leaving only about 20% of visualizations actually displaying (Chrome 12.0 on OSX 10.5.8 if folks are reading).

Status: operational

Fitbit fitbit.com $99.95

The Fitbit is a hardware device which tracks your motions and sleep throughout each day. This data can be uploaded and visualized on their website to realize information about your daily activities like calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and sleep quality. The Fitbit contains a 3D motion sensor like the one found in the Nintendo Wii and plugs into a base station to upload the data.

Status: operational

Personal Google Search History google.com/history free

When I first saw this application on the Google site I was immediately alarmed. The amount of data they have collected is staggering; for example, “Total Google searches: 36323.” (since Jan 2006) This is a fantastic picture into the life of a user and what they are reading, watching, responding to. It’s like another, admittedly less manicured version, of Facebook. Instead of creating a profile, I am being profiled.

The privacy implications are serious here, which is probably why you have to login again to view it. It is also why a user’s search history draws the interest of interface artist, Johannes P. Osterhof, who is in the process of exploring the line between private and public data, as well as the even further-evaporated division between surveillance and social networks, in his one-year-long search history-made public project, simply titled, Google.

But, as everyone probably already knows, these big companies are making money and providing services. Google has the resources to take your privacy seriously. Well, kind of, because it mostly doesn’t fit into their business model to not track people.

Status: operational

Google Takeout google.com/takeout free

Speaking of funding, I’m quite impressed by this project. Google Takeout is developed by an engineering team at Google called the Data Liberation Front who take their jobs very seriously. In addition to their Google Takeout project, which allows you to export some of your data from Google, they have a really great website with current information about getting access to the data you store with Google.

Status: operational, in-development

gottaFeeling gottafeeling.com free/$$

gottaFeeling is an iphone application that allows you to track and share your feelings. It’s a simple concept, and while loaded down with a lot of rhetoric, reminds me of the amazing, “We Feel Fine.”

Status: in-development

BuzzData buzzdata.com unsure

Finally, I’ll end with BuzzData, a data-publishing platform that encourages the growth of communities around data. Not yet public, I’ve received a private taste of what this app will do, and it looks like it will be pretty cool. Think a mashup between Github and ManyEyes.

Status: still in-development, not public

So I’ll end with the table I created in my research. There are obviously many more types of ways to keep and manage data that I haven’t addressed here, but this is a good start. For further reading check out the Quantified Self blog/user community/conference created by Gary Wolf, who also authored, The Data-Driven Life, the New York Times article linked above.

track/ upload custom data types visualize publish privacy export mobile upload API price limits

Give Me
My Data

yes yes n/a no yes yes n/a no free none

Daytum

yes yes yes yes $$ yes mobile site and iphone app no free / $4/ month free account limited by amount

Geckoboard

no yes yes no yes no n/a only for viewing $9-$200
/ month
number of users

Track-n-Graph

yes yes yes yes yes no web-based no free / $25 per year free account limited by amount

your. flowingdata

yes yes yes yes yes yes via twitter via twitter free none

mycrocosm

yes yes yes yes yes no web-based email-based free none

ManyEyes

yes yes yes yes no yes no no free none

Buzzdata

yes yes yes yes yes yes email ??? ??? ???

Google Web History

yes n/a yes yes yes yes yes no free none

Google Takeout

yes yes n/a n/a yes yes n/a no free none

Fitbit

yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes $100 / website is free free web account limited by amount

gottaFeeling

yes no no yes yes no iphone no free none
track/upload Can you track or upload your own data?
custom data types Does the a support custom data types?
visualize Can you create visualizations with the app?
publish Can you publish your data with the software?
privacy Are there options for keeping your data private while using the app?
export Can you export the data back out?
mobile upload Are there options to track or upload data from a device?
API Is there an Application Program Interface that allows you to write code to manage data?
price Is there a free version?
limits What limits are imposed on the free version?

Update: Check out Google Guages and other Google Charts.

Semantic network of hierarchical tags from Camp La Jolla Military Park

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

A semantic network visualization and detail using tags generated from the hierarchical tagging system I created with Thomas Evan Lecklider as part of my Camp La Jolla Military Park project.

For example this item, Defense Contractors recruit at UCSD Job Fair, in the park is filed under: business » arms industry » spending » recruiting

Give Me My Data and exporting mutual friends

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

On the one-year anniversary of the beginning of Give Me My Data I’m very happy to announce that you can now export your friends and your mutual friends from facebook using two new formats. Both of the data formats are geared towards making graphs by displaying objects and their relationships. Needless to say, this is the most often requested feature since the official beta launch in April 2010. See below for more information

The DOT language

DOT is a plain text graph description language and can be rendered using a variety of layout applications like Graphviz or Tulip.

This example (saved as a plain text file with the .dot extension)

graph G
{
	a -- b -- c;
	b -- d;
}

Produces something like this

Python / Nodebox 1.0

The other file format is also for visualizing relationships. You can copy and paste the contents into a plain text file saved with a .py extension and open it in Nodebox, a Mac application that uses Python to create 2D visuals. Learn more about creating graphs in Nodebox.

Here’s an example file. My mutual friends exported from Facebook…

Automata: Counter-Surveillance in Public Space paper on the Public Interventions panel at ISEA2010

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

isea2010_logo_klein

ISEA2010 RUHR Conference in Dortmund, Germany

P26 Public Interventions
Tue 24 August 2010
15:00–16:30h
Volkshochschule Dortmund, S 137a
Moderated by Georg Dietzler (de)

  • 15:00h | Owen Mundy (us): Automata: Counter-Surveillance in Public Space
  • 15:20h | Christoph Brunner (ch/ca), Jonas Fritsch (dk): Balloons, Sweat and Technologies. Urban Interventions through Ephemeral Architectures
  • 15:40h | Georg Klein (de): Don’t Call It Art! On Artistic Strategies and Political Implications of Media Art in Public Space
  • 16:00h | Georg Dietzler (de): Radical Ecological Art and No Greenwash Exhibitions

About my talk:

Automata is the working title for a counter-surveillance internet bot that will record and display the mutually-beneficial interrelationships between institutions for higher learning, the global defense industry, and world militaries. Give Me My Data is a Facbook application that help users reclaim and reuse their Facebook data. The two projects, both ongoing, address important issues surounding contemporary forms of communication, surveillance, and control.

New video for Lucent

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Katherine Sweetman, has just posted a great video documenting the Lucent project we did at the University of California, San Diego.

New Automata sitemaps

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

A deconstruction of defense contractor website data structures.

ga-asi.com_sitemap_20091208_red_800w

ga-asi.com_sitemap_20091208_red_detail

lockheedmartin.com_sitemap_20091214_red_800w

lockheedmartin.com_sitemap_20091214_red_detail

BBC News reports on Give Me My Data

Friday, June 25th, 2010

BBC News reports on Give Me My Data. Their website and video player is pretty clunky, and while they avoid crediting the developer, its still a nice plug to wake up to.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/8744514.stm

Picture 2

Give Me My Data _new images

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

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Give Me My Data (fb_friends_20100128_white)

fb_mutualfriends_20091114_black_3000w
Give Me My Data (fb_mutualfriends_20091114_black)

fb_mutualfriends_20100430_dark3_3000w
Give Me My Data (fb_mutualfriends_20100430_dark3)

fb_profile_xml_20100430_1000w
Give Me My Data (fb_profile_xml_20100430)

HZ Net Gallery #13

Monday, December 21st, 2009

hz logoKeyword Intervention has been included in the recent HZ Net Gallery update. Also included were: Alysse Stepanian, Rudi Punzo, Aaron Oldenburg, Aaron M. Higgens, Anders Bojen & Kristoffer Ørum.