The Joys of Data Visualization: the "Ahh" and the "Aha"

I had a bit of a light bulb go off today. I think it captures what I like so much about data visualization.

The "Ahh"

The "Ahh" is that feeling when you begin to obtain a resolution of the thicketed nest of data and concepts interacting in your head, frustrating a comprehension you know is in there somewhere. The "Ahh" can be a satisfying unwinding of sorts.

The "Aha"

The "Aha" is the insight you can can get once the thicket starts to become organized. The types of insight can be totally unexpected. It can be sublime.

And Now...

I found two other hits with the phrase "the ahh and the aha". One use is by a yoga instructor. Another is on a Universalist blog. This makes sense. For me at least, this is all part of a comforting zen.

Twitter Sifter - a Tool for Unthrottled Twitter Search

I really like twitter, but I hate the way search throttles you. You have to keep pulling down, or click on the "40 new results" link to be spoonfed dribbles of tweets.

So, making use of the twitter streaming api, I have been playing with a personal tool to get around this, so that you can have a more uninterrupted view of the tweets that match your search terms.

This little project is currently called "Twitter Sifter".

It can be a lot of fun to use while watching sporting events, tv shows, or really any live event. For "breaking news", it can help you spot those first bursts of new information. All while avoiding continual clicking to get new information.

Beginning Experiments with Motion for Visualizing Emoji Use in Tweets

Beginning (and Messy!) Experiment
with Motion for Visually Digesting
Emoji Twitter Activity
Using Box2DWeb

Iteration 2: Using Emoji Categories
using categories from Cal Henderson's
js-emoji project

Previous "Spiral View" of Similar Activity

I have been playing with different ways to visualize emoji use in tweets, using emojitracker's streaming api (by Matthew Roth) to get the live counts for about 900 emoji.

The visualization is at It currently definitely requires a larger screen, and more cpu power than a mobile device is going to have.

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