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Nexus – Facebook Application visually graphs friends and commonalities
|| 3/26/2008 || 2:55 pm || Comments Off on Nexus – Facebook Application visually graphs friends and commonalities || ||

I am a fan of applications that can visualize the interconnectedness of my digital relations. The first iteration of this type of friendgraph was the Friend Wheel Application. While there is isn’t much difference between the two applications, I like how Nexus groups friends non-hierarchically and shows exactly who is connected to who and by what friend. Visually I can see my past and present friends on the radial friendgraph above. (I think it looks like the iconic Death Star from Star Wars.) Off in the corner are my high school friends who I remain in contact with, the lower right and top are college friends, and the far left are my current DC friends. That, however, is a broad generalization because there are so many miscellaneous linkages. What the Nexus application lacks is color customization beyond dark/light, typographical cloud scaling (like friends who link the most receive a larger font), and the application’s residency in a user’s Facebook’s profile. I am still using the Friendwheel application because it shows up in my profile, whereas the Nexus application is an off-site application.

Below is the less visually engaging spring friendgraph.

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Washington, DC Foreclosure Google Map Mashup
|| || 9:42 am || Comments Off on Washington, DC Foreclosure Google Map Mashup || ||

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My first jury duty experience; Courthouse needs more art
|| 3/25/2008 || 3:09 pm || Comments Off on My first jury duty experience; Courthouse needs more art || ||

Notice the map does not include which direction is North

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Do X in Dildo [a historical linguistic anamoly from 1932]
|| 3/24/2008 || 3:59 pm || Comments Off on Do X in Dildo [a historical linguistic anamoly from 1932] || ||

Present day english could describe “Do X in Dildo” as some odd porno rave, but according to page 181 of Vikings to U-Boats: The German Experience in Newfoundland and Labrador By Gerhard P. Bassler, Do X in Dildo has a completely different meaning:

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Google Charts API now includes small maps, but leaves out Washington, DC.
|| || 11:53 am || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

Since DC is not a state, Google decided to completely leave out the nation’s capital from it’s new Google Docs feature that allows the creation of small, static maps. This cartographic error could have easily been fixed by simply adding a small arrow to the DC diamond and labeling it in the Atlantic Ocean as “Washington, DC” in the USA map.

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Thievery Corporation 2006 Blurb Book by Rob Myers
|| 3/23/2008 || 5:28 pm || Comments Off on Thievery Corporation 2006 Blurb Book by Rob Myers || ||

Last summer Rob Myers (1, 2, 3, 4) showed me the demo copy of the book and I absolutely loved it. There aren’t very many touring bands that have such a large cast of characters like Thievery Corporation and this book captures their 2006 international tour in a unique way that only a band member could. The 120 page photobook consists of 700 photos laid out in chronological order showing the band’s travels from Seattle to São Paulo during the Versions tour. Rob uploaded the entire book to Flickr so you can see the entire book before purchasing (soft cover: $45 / hard cover: $55). I am looking forward to getting my copy shortly.

If you are in the Washington, DC area this week, Eric Hilton will be at this month’s Modernist Society event. It’s one of the Washington Post’s best picks, so show up early. Check the flyer below.

Below are some of my favorite pages from the book:

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Flight & Expulsion – An Interactive Flash Map by Christian Behrens
|| 3/22/2008 || 7:46 pm || Comments Off on Flight & Expulsion – An Interactive Flash Map by Christian Behrens || ||

Every year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issues a report concerning the number of approximately 21,000,000 people worldwide falling under its mandate: as refugees who were forced to leave their countries due to war, political, racial or religious persecution, as internally displaced persons, or as repatriates on their way back home.

This interactive visualization attempts to give an insight into the phenomenon of global flight and expulsion, based on the annual UNHCR statistics between the years of 1995 and 2004.

Last year Christian Behrens, a new media designer based in Berlin made this interactive Flash map. While I *really* like the map’s concept, coding, and visualization method, I have some issues with the cartographic layout. Specifically, it’s hard to accurately locate some countries with my mouse and since there is no scaling on the text or basemap, its hard to find countries that are typographically overlapping. Moreover, the country’s dot is the only hotspot that triggers the UNHCR data, so if you are hovering over the words, you are literally missing the point. For example, I wanted to find the Gaza Strip and realized the point where my mouse is located is not on Gaza. This also happened with Sri Lanka, whereas the dot is over water. Just south of Sri Lanka, not far from the Maldives. My favorite country on the map is Stateless (below). With that aside, I found this map to be very informative.

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The 21 Steps by Charles Cumming – A story told through Google Maps
|| 3/21/2008 || 2:57 pm || Comments Off on The 21 Steps by Charles Cumming – A story told through Google Maps || ||

The 21 Steps by Charles Cumming is an interactive story that is told through the use of Google Maps. Readers can watch & navigate the story as it unfolds across a map of the world. About six months ago I tried making a Choose Your Own Adventure story using Google Maps, but I ultimately gave up because I didn’t want to code it all! I look forward to reading this story, and more importantly, seeing how people are able to further mash-up this concept of taking a work of fiction (or non-fiction) and putting it on a map. [via Metafilter]



The National Gruntledness Index
|| || 10:48 am || Comments Off on The National Gruntledness Index || ||

This map of the United States is Careerbuilder’s “definitive measure of career happiness.” While I think the map’s concept is cute, the means in which the colors are displayed make the map more comical than helpful. My screen grab above is a static picture but on the website the map is slightly animated which creates these bands of ‘gruntledness’ that are impossible (look at West Virginia’s colored band uniting with Ohio). Yet if you ignore this aspect, the point of the map becomes evident; it’s simply a promotional tool to bring people to Career Builder’s website. Maybe it’s time I start looking for a 9 to 5 job– it’s been about two years since I’ve been in an office.

Related Found Maps:

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Happy Nowruz !!
|| 3/20/2008 || 3:25 pm || Comments Off on Happy Nowruz !! || ||

Last night I celebrated Nowruz, the Persian New Year, with some of my close friends for the second year in a row. Like the ancient peoples written in our history books, I am a fan of all celebrations that bring people together, and Nowruz has been bringing people together for over 15,000 years– making it one of mankind’s oldest celebrations.

The previous year I was given the sabzeh, or green wheat sprouts in a small dish, which represents rebirth. This year I saw my first traditional Haft-Seen display (pictured). Each element in the display has a specific meaning for the next year.

Via Wikipedia, some of the Haft-Seen items are:


* sabzeh – wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbolizing rebirth
* samanu – a sweet pudding made from wheat germ – symbolizing affluence
* senjed – the dried fruit of the oleaster tree – symbolizing love
* sÄ«r – garlic – symbolizing medicine
* sÄ«b – apples – symbolizing beauty and health
* somaq – sumac berries – symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
* serkeh – vinegar – symbolizing age and patience

Other items on the table may include:

* Sonbol – Hyacinth (flower)
* Sekkeh – Coins – representative of wealth
* traditional Iranian pastries such as baghlava, toot, naan-nokhodchi
* dried nuts, berries and raisins (Aajeel)
* lit candles (enlightenment and happiness)
* a mirror (symbolizing cleanness and honesty)
* decorated eggs, sometimes one for each member of the family (fertility)
* a bowl of water with goldfish (life within life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving)
* a bowl of water with an orange in it (the earth floating in space)
* rosewater, believed to have magical cleansing powers
* the national colours, for a patriotic touch
* a holy book (e.g., the Qur’an, Avesta, Bible, Torah, or Kitáb-i-Aqdas) and/or a poetry book (almost always either the Shahnama or the Divan of Hafez)

We stayed up to 1:48am to celebrate start of year 1387 (Anno Persico) and shortly after the new day began I poured rose water on my hands, rubbed it on my face, and looked into a small mirror. I am told its a ceremonial way of putting the year behind you— and what a great year 1386 was for me! I expect 1387 to be filled with intrigue, excitement, and fun.


I’d like to take a brief moment to expound on how amazing the Persian Calendar is. Technically, it is one of the few astronomical solar calendars that are still used today. Interestingly, it is more precise than the Gregorian calendars that have been in used in Europe (and America) since 1582. Each month is not based on the arbitrary division of months as we have today, rather each month was determined by the transit of the sun into the corresponding zodiac region.

By 1079 (C.E.), the Jalali Calendar, a precursor to the modern Persian Calendar, had the solar year calculated to seven decimal places (365.2421986) and in today’s Gregorian Calendar the days in a year is calculated to only six decimal places (365.242190). Also, since the astronomical observations and predictions used in Jalali Calendar were based on a yearly review of the astronomical ephemeris, the calendar never required a leap years nor were seasons ever off by more than a day. All in all, I am very impressed with their calendar and how its changed over the years to include other cultural influences.

Last year’s research on the zodiac found in Battista Agnese’s portolan from 1544 shows that even as far back as 400+ years ago New Years was celebrated in the spring. I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at this zodiac and found one important indicator of New Years.

There is only one point on the double concentric circle where there is a line that bisects both the astrological calendar and the Gregorian calendar. This line falls around March 10th (see below), however I have been unable to find out why that specific date was chosen for this specific calendar. I am still trying to reconcile this anomaly, but hope to have a definitive answer sometime in the not-so-distant future.





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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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  • thank you,
    come again!