Blog: August, 2010
Datablog: The Freedom to Visualize
With just under a year in operation, San Francisco's "data liberation" website, DataSF, has inspired some compelling visualizations. One person who has actively taken advantage of this website is flickr user Eric Fischer. This past week he introduced an animated graphic that caught my eye.
While it may take a few views to deduce, this animation shows a full day, starting and ending at 3 a.m., with each of the days layered on top of each other. Wanting to know even more about the process, I figured I would reach out to him to get his thoughts. In an email conversation with Fischer, he revealed that he wrote a program to filter the DataSF files by both minute and hour, and then plotted each of the points. He then converted the set of images into a movie file.
According to Fischer, "there is actually no base map that it is overlaid onto -- where streets are visible in the animation, they are visible just because Muni vehicles have passed along them." To him the results speak to the relative regularity of service. A route like the 108 Treasure Island, if viewed in isolation, seems to confirm his assessment.
I was also intrigued as to what other type of data Fischer wished he had access to, and what would inspire more creative output. According to Fischer, "as great as real-time data is, I wish sources of it like NextBus would also make records of the past available, since often it is more interesting to find out what has changed over time than what is happening right now."
If you enjoyed his animation, explore some of Eric Fischer's other work on flickr.
"Locals vs. tourists" [Photo Credit: Eric Fischer]
Urban Bees on the Rise
As a budding apiarist, I was devastated to hear about the Hayes Valley Farm incident last week. An unknown person sprayed two beehives with household pesticides - destroying the hives and killing thousands of bees. Hayes Valley, the community farm in San Francisco, used the San Francisco Bee-Cause beehives in to help educate Bay Area residents about beekeeping and urban farming.
Dead bees at Hayes Valley Farm [Photo Credit: flickr user HayesValleyFarm]
Despite this terrible news, it's exciting to see that cities and community groups around the world are recognizing the importance of bees and embracing urban beekeeping by holding festivals, implementing official urban beekeeping programs, and even changing laws which made beekeeping difficult. Some notable examples include:
London's City of London Festival included several bee related events (partly to celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010), including the installation of beehives throughout the city as well as bee-centric poetry, music, and seminars. Many of the festival's events were free to the public.
The Ginza Honey Bee Project in Tokyo maintains beehives in the Ginza shopping district. The hives are used to produce products for local businesses. Bakers use the honey from the hives to make sweets which are sold in local shops, and the wax from the hives is used for local church candles.
Earlier this year, the New York City Board of Health voted to remove a ban on beekeeping in the city, making it easier for urban keepers to operate.
The White House garden is now home to the first ever White House beehive. The hives are used to educate children who visit about the importance of bees in food production and the honey from the hive is used in the White House kitchen. Check out this great video on the project.
The White House beehive [Photo Credit: flickr user Funky Tee]