Monday, 11 March 2013

WebGL - not ready for prime time?

So one of the visualizations I wanted to add to the HiveMindMap website was a 3D map of the globe using the software here.

The good news is the images are quite interesting and respond very quickly to mouse and keyboard events:

The bad news is :

  1. A limited set of browsers support WebGL
  2. Those that do seem unstable
Using the latest versions of Chrome and Safari on OSX I have found that browser windows will occasionally burst into periods of rapid flashing that look like they could induce epileptic fits. Also the screen will occasionally lock up a machine with the dreaded spinning beach ball for long periods. This happened on both desktop and laptop machines.
For these reasons I have opted to stick with a Google Earth KML file for this sort of content until WebGL support improves.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Mapping language use

There have been several maps published lately that use Twitter data to show what languages are in use where.  Google Earth lends itself nicely to this job for several reasons:

  1. Tweet volumes in an area can be shown by 3D towers - this helps give a better sense of scale than a flat picture (and I'm normally not a fan of 3D)
  2. Each language can be hidden or shown using the Google Earth checkboxes that control layer visibility. If you want to focus in on just French or remove all English, just check the appropriate boxes.
A happy side-effect of planting several "towers" representing different languages in the same spot is that Google Earth shows the most dominant language most clearly.

Here's a screenshot:

If you want to explore the data yourself the Google Earth file is here