Category Archives: reviews

Visual Internet Maps

Here is another nice example for a visual Internet map by Ruslan Enikeev, who visualizes the Internet nodes of different countries and regions as galaxies of stars. The distance between these stars, model a bi-dimensional presentation of links between websites on the Internet. Every site is a circle on the map, and its size is determined by website traffic, the larger the amount of traffic, the bigger the circle. The Internet map is a non-commercial project. Its main goal is to let the people see beauty of the Internet:

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Another really famous visualization of the Internet’s backbone structure was created by Stephen G. Eick from Bell Laboratories in 1993:

The arc map displays a 3D network structure as arcs curving smoothly above a flat map of the world. The data being visualized is Internet traffic flows between fifty countries, as measured by the NSFNET backbone in 1993. The colour, thickness and height of the arcs is used to encode the traffic statistics for particular inter-country links. The arcs are also partially translucent so as not to completely obscure lines at the back of the map, while their height above the base map is in relation to total volume of traffic flowing over a link. This has the effect of making the most important (high traffic) links, the highest and therefore most visually prominent on the map. The user has considerable interactive control over the arc map, for example the arc height scaling and translucency can be varied. The map can also be rotated and scaled, so that the user can view it from any angle.

One really cool example by Felix Heinen, it was his final year work in information design, shows the the variety and attitudes of members from an internet community like Facebook. In a first visualization he shows the functions each member uses as well as additional demographic information. The second visualization shows a geographic orientation where the members of a community are located worldwide:

screenshot taken from:

screenshot taken from:

The book ‘Visual Complexity’ by Manuel Lima combines design and complexity to explain the art of information and knowledge extraction out of graphical visualizations. Visual Complexity presents one hundred of the most interesting examples of information-visualization by the field’s leading practitioners. Many popular examples try to visualize Internet or social graph related  aspecs, such as traffic, site links or even social connection between a huge amount of nodes.

Manuel’s Web site Visual Complexity shows hundreds of different examples for large scale data visualizations, such as social graphs, nike running tracks, research networks, technology connections, wikipedia edits during global crisis and incredibly more:

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Book Review: The 100$ Startup

The 100$ Startup by Chris Guillebeau is dedicated to low budget startup companies, that are run by individuals without large teams. These startup companies very much differ from the actual hype around seed funding and pitching large and potent investors. The typical Silicon Valley entrepreneurs try to set up startups with the goal to sell them after a seed period of at most three years and taking large profit with them, in order to start the next one. All the individual startups that are described within The 100$ Startup are not within that category. Chris describes many different individual product models and businesses, ranging from small bakeries to a very successful bycycle mattresses store. All of these startups have in common that their owners follow a very individual model of creating value and of financing their regular income by not loosing their freedom within large companies. This book is an anthem for small individual businesses and agains the unhealthy and depressing work within large companies.

I really loved to read about the very different ways these people started their own businesses. Some of them did not even realized the moment when their own business grew more profiteable than their regular work ever was. I also liked the fact that this book is  about normal people, like you and me, realizing that they can turn their hobbies into good businesses.

Another interesting aspect about this book is that all the people and their businesses that are mentioned agreed to open their business and income figures to the readers. You can find details on Chris’ website

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Book Review: The Wisdom of Crowds

With the book The Wisdom of Crowds James Surowiecki wrote a fantastic book on the topic why crowds of people can come to interesting decisions in certain situations. Recently crowd reviews, also known as collaborative filtering got quite popular with the appearance of recommendation engines that support customers in deciding which product to choose. Surowiecki explains, by using fascinating historic stories, in which situations crowds were able to solve complex problems. He also highlights how the stock market, as a huge global crowd of trading people, is able to predict the value of businesses and even the outcome of judicial investigations, such as the investigation that followed the Challenger desaster in 1986. The Wisdom of Crowds describes in detail which kind of problems can be solved by using crowd decisions as well as the criteria which define specific situations in which the result of crowd decisions can lead to reasonable results.

With The Wisdom of Crowds James Surowiecki wrote a solid book that explains the dynamics of crowd based decision making by using entertaining stories on each of the highlighted aspects.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, is a really good science-fiction novel with a fresh and innovative story, compared to other books i read in the last month.

The story plays in a nation called Panem, which was founded after the country formerly known as North America fell in a catastrophic war against each other. Out of the ruins of this epic war, 12 districts remained which are dictated by a shining and luxurious Capitol. The remaining districts that fought the war against the central Capitol were defeated and as a part of the surrender  terms agreed to hand over a yearly tribute fee of one girl and a boy to fight a deathmatch against the other ‘Tributes’ of the 12 districts of Panem. ‘The Hunger Games’ are arranged and choreographed in an artificial arena where every scene is filmed by hidden cameras and broadcasted to all districs as a symbol for their neverending defeat. the sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. However the rules of the games, the arena and the tributes change but all games have the same constant: kill all the other tributes or get killed by them, only one out of 24 young tributes is allowed to survive!

GeoGebra: Understandable Math for Everybody

Some ideas have the power to change the way we are thinking about everyday technology and knowledge. For me GeoGebra is such an idea which has a really positive effect on how we are teaching basic and advanced mathematics to children and adults. The idea behind GeGebra is to provide a powerful open source software for visualizing mathematic topics in a very intuitive and understandable way. Over the last years hundreds of mathematic teachers worldwide created a GeoGebra community which shares mathematic examples and new ideas for the further development of this genious framework. The team that developed GeoGebra has already won several prices for their incredable work. GeoGebra offers interactive graphics, algebra and spreadsheet and a lot of free learning material from elementary school to university level.





Ultraslim Samsung Notebook Series 9

As i was shopping in a nearby electronics and computer store, i saw one of the new Samsung Series 9 notebooks, which has a absolutely cool design. I will definitely consider this new notebook as a replacement for my actual model. The Series 9 comes with 13.3-inch LED display with HD resolution, 128 GB Solid State Drive (SSD), 4 GB of system memory, and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor. The series 9 offers a 1.6 GHz low-voltage Intel Core i5-2467M “Sandy Bridge” dual-core processor with 2.4Ghz turbo boost mode. The whole thing does not contain any moving parts and therefore runs around 7 hours with one battery load. One of the drawbacks of such slim designs is that you will need a lot of additional cable adapters for standard video cables as well as for Ethernet connectivity.

2012 Philip K. Dick Festival

Philip K. Dick is one of the most amazing science fiction author, who published a countless number of short stories on which most of the premier class science fiction films, such as Minority Report, Total Recall, Matrix, Blade Runner and many more are based on. This year a Philip K. Dick Festival is scheduled for September 22-23 in San Francisco. Guest speakers are Jonathan Lethem, Erik Davis, Paul Sammon, and many other big thinkers on topics as self-induced amnesia, computer simulations, mysticism, dystopia, and, of course, drugs. 2012 Philip K. Dick Festival

Porträt Philip K. Dick von Pete Welsch