The first thing I need to mention is this video I made based on the Afghanistan IED data that got published via Wikileaks. Others have already been doing their own visualizations (which is how I got started), but I decided to brush off my memories of the tool I wrote ages ago (that link just gives you the idea, I didn’t bother tracking down anything better) that built animated geolocated-data map videos that showed web usage around the world and so on (it was sort of neat watching the users swing around the globe, sync’d with the sun) and apply it to bombs in Afghanistan.
You can watch the video here, but do yourself a favor and view full-screen it at 720p over on YouTube — I rendered it at 2560×1440 so the bigger you can view it, the better it will look, and it will be so much easier to see map details like roads. If you don’t have time to watch it all, then you should watch the last bit, because in 2008 and 2009, the bombing gets much more intense…
The map itself is a modified version of one that I grabbed from the NATO website that was easy to work with because it has clearly labeled lat/lon markings, and more importantly, the projection is flat and aligned with a grid, so setting up a scaling system to translate the points is easy. When the bombs go off, they can be green (no casualties of any sort), yellow (injuries only), or red (people were killed), with the casualties being recorded both in terms of “enemy” kills, and everyone else (both allies and civilians — in hindsight I should have had three columns).
Anyway, hope it’s interesting to someone. Feel free to repost it, feel free to modify it, feel free to ask me for data sets and source code… whatever… As always, enjoy. Hopefully it is not too buggy, and double-hopefully if it is, the bugs are not of the visible sort!
Edit: I just saw (thanks Lou) that the Guardian has posted a similar and in some ways much better visualization of this same dataset, which you can view here. That said, I’ve downloaded the full dataset (the entire war, not just IEDs), so I’m analyzing that as I find time and energy, so I’ll post something much more interesting when I can.
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I’ve been doing loads of programming. My carving/bump-map editor is coming along very nicely, with a great number of the routines written. At this point I just have a couple to do and I’ll have something quite useful that I can begin physically testing. I must concede that the work goes more slowly than I’d like, and some days I get almost… no… literally nothing done because I just can’t think straight. The positive synchronicity there is that Nefarious has been visiting her grandmother for the last week, having a great time with her, her cousins, and her great-grandmother as well. Before we dropped her off, we spent the day hitting the beach and then the hotel pool and waterslide when we retired for the day.
I’m quite curious as to what I was looking at in the final photo.
When Nefarious got back from the County today, one of the the things we did was to go and visit Shane so he could take some final measurements of my left leg since we’re starting the tattoo this weekend. I’ve mentioned before that’s it’s a sort of Iron Sky (Nazis UFOs) meets Hell Boy (Nazi Occultism) meets Blood and Snow (Nazi Zombies). It’s a big project, and it’s been some time getting started, so fingers crossed that Shane, who has a new child occupying his attention much more than my leg, will be able to find time to get it done this fall. Here’s a couple teasers of the sketches that don’t at all do it justice, but continue to give you an idea of where we’re going.
Of course effort is being taken to be clear that this is a sci-fi tattoo, not a neo-nazi tattoo!
When we were at his studio (after a long walk through Kensington market and China Town because my mental map had him at the opposite end of the Dundas-College/Bathurst-Spadina rectangle than in reality), Nefarious was quite interested in the skulls and which ones were real and which were not… Shane inherited some of my skulls when I stopped selling them (I think with BME’s redesign, my old “Skulls For Sale” webpage is finally dead — which reminds me of what an incredible resource archive.org is), and it’s quite amazing how these skulls went from enduring a dubious start, being most likely grave-robbed, passed around academia for a while, and then ending up on my particularly trashy, tacky webstore… and then finding their way into Shane’s hands, who has worked to “purify” for lack of a better world, and by inserting these exact skulls, with care and respect, into places of honor in dozens if not hundreds of custom tattoos, he’s added a fascinating end stone to these mystery men’s biographies.