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Geek Tuesday: Data Immersion Gone Wild

Making sense of the world one dataset at a time, or what Mahnattan men and the poverty line have in common.

It’s no secret we’re huge (HUGE) data visualization junkies here. So we’re all over UUorld, a fantastic new immersive mapping environment that helps you makes sense of the data through highly intuitive visual analysis.

UUorld, pronounced [world], uses four-dimensional mapping — an approach that exposes the spatial and temporal context implicit to virtually all data, revealing insight far deeper and more compelling than any brain-numbing array of numbers splattered on an Excel spreadsheet could. (Which doesn’t surprise us, given the overwhelming evidence for the visual-spatial sketch pad’s role in cognition, comprehension and memory.)

While UUorld is capable of analyzing international trends and patterns, it also allows you to zoom in on sub-national elements like states, counties and even cities. The software comes with an enormous portal of free data, or you can import your own to visualize. The maps you build are highly customizable, so you can flex your creative muscle and art-direct your data visualizations to aesthetic perfection.

Visualizations and maps are downloadable in a variety of formats, including KML — which means you can export your data creations to Google Earth, plotting your data in its planetary context. And because Google Earth has an open API, we can only begin to imagine the fascinating potential for crowd-sourcing data visualization from UUorld users, eventually building an immense global library of trends and patterns that help us better understand our world and each other.

We’d love to see UUorld eventually explore the dynamic, creative potential of rich data analysis by partnering with data visualization artists like Chris Jordan, Aaron Koblin and Jonathan Harris.

A robust non-commercial version of UUorld is available for free, or you can go Pro for just $49, which we think is beyond reasonable for you get.

And if you aren’t ready to commit just yet, go ahead and explore the data gallery — you’ll find such delightful edutainment as the percentage of households run by single mothers, U.S. magnetic field intensity, a state-by-state dissection of the Obama stimulus package, and the average earnings of Manhattan men.

BP

Monday Music Muse: First Aid Kit

How two Swedish teenagers are redefining indie-folk rock, or what mountain peasants have to do with Fiona Apple.

For most teenage girls, the world of indie music is reduced to the angst-driven overconsumption of Fiona Apple wannabes, preferably blasted in volume that sparks daily yell-fests with mom. But for Swedish duo First Aid Kit, composed of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, 15 and 18, respectively, indie music is for the making. And make it they do — brilliantly, at that.

Their music, indie folk-rock with a distinct Scandinavian twist, sounds like something that belongs on the Juno soundtrack — boldly quirky vocals, backed by an infectious acoustic guitar, with the occasional perfect drum beat. And while the duo is altogether phenomenal, we were particularly taken with their cover of Fleet Foxes’ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song — an extraordinary outpour of vocal delight, utterly chill-inducing in a way that blows all the Fleet Foxes covers of late out of the water.

First Aid Kit‘s debut EP, Drunken Trees, releases tomorrow. But if you absolutely cannot wait, you can thank Jeff Bezos and pre-order it on Amazon today.

Thanks, Minna

BP

TEDify: Ideas Worth Connecting

Connecting the cultural dots one 65-second audio-visual experiment at a time.

There’s no secret we’re huge TED fans over here. Today, we’re excited to announce a pet project of our very own, paying tribute to TED — TEDify.org, an audio-visual experiment connecting the dots between TED talks to make those bigger social and cultural points.

The first episode deals with the relationship between three of today’s most culturally relevant issues: The role of design, the idea of sustainability, and our collective capacity for change.

So if you’re a fellow TED aficionado, or in the very least fascinated by the world of brilliant ideas — which, by way of being here in the first place, you most likely are — see what all the fuss is about.

And if you find the project the least bit compelling, please do pass it along — stumble it, re-tweet this, send smoke signals — and leave a comment on TEDify. We’ll very much appreciate it.

TEDify.org

BP

Spotlight: Cherri Wood

Newspaper cutout, hidden messages, and what Oliver Twist has to do with ink stains.

Cherri Wood is one of those rare nineteen-year-olds who manage to translate their mandatory teen angst into wonderful works of art. Her drawings combine that childish, messy quality of art with the intensity of adult reality.

Simple but rich like a haiku, Wood’s work reveals graphite kids standing in the watercolor dirt, daring you to fill in the wide white blanks of the world.

The Oliver Twists of her canvases, inspired by a lost fingernail or the freakish masks of her neighbors, speak volumes with their faceless melancholy.

The talented teenager can transform a newspaper cutout and a piece of duct tape into something much grander and more profound, into tiny pieces chipped away from on old soul.

Do check out Cherri Wood‘s extraordinary work. And if you happen to be in the San Francisco area, stop by Gallery 1988 by February 28th. Just be sure to look for the tiny messages buried between the ink stains — they make the whole experience that much more gratifying and personal.

BP

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