November 28, 2011

CNN’s Ecosphere

Who’s talking about climate change?  Now there’s a way to track the conversations taking place on Twitter via an achingly lovely visualization tool.  The “information aesthetics” blog Infosthetics has a great post today about CNN’s brand new Ecosphere.  It’s a real-time Twitter 3D visualization which aims to illustrate how the online discussion is evolving around the topic of climate change.  It aggregates all Twitter messages hashtagged #cop17 (which is an abbreviation for ”The 17th Conference of the Parties [COP17] to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC]“).

The online visualization is an interactive globe described by its creators as a “lush digital ecosystem” in which the #cop17 Tweets look and act like actual plants and trees. Each Tweet about climate change feeds into a plant representing that topic or discussion, causing it to “grow” – a fascinating real-time representation of how the world “sees” climate change at any given moment.  Try clicking one of the Tweets and see for yourself.

CNN’s Ecosphere works best with Google Chrome or Firefox, but if you use Safari, you can enable WebGL in your preferences.

Happy marveling…

September 21, 2011

Octopus’s Garden

I love that old Beatles song. “I’d like to be/Under the sea/In an octopus’s garden in the shade.”

So the polar icecaps are melting and the sea level is rising.  It’s already risen about 20-40 centimeters, depending on where you are on Earth.  And there are a lot of predictions about how much more ice is going to melt, and when.

Some folks made a chart about it in January of 2010 with the funny title When Sea Levels Attack!  

It shows how many years it will take for various big cities around the world to become completely submerged.  It’s spooky stuff, that’s for sure.  The chart shows that if everything goes as predicted, in 1,000 years almost all the world’s major coastal cities will be underwater.  There are these little tiny world maps on there too.  There’s one that depicts what a world map will look like 8,000 years from now.  The data sources are at the bottom of the graph along with a spreadsheet if you want to really be a geek about it. 

Then again, the water levels might not rise that far. Though I’m sure there must be some folks already investing in real estate in sub-Saharan Africa.

Know where the title for Octopus’s Garden came from?  Ringo Starr, who wrote  the song, was on a boat with Peter Sellers and the ship’s captain told Ringo that octopuses travel along the seabed picking up stones and shiny objects to build gardens.  (Those gardens are more like rocky dens for the octopuses to live in, but ‘garden’ sounds nicer, doesn’t it. )

I suppose if all this sea level stuff really happens, the octopuses will really go nuts with their gardening.  Imagine all the stuff that’ll be submerged underwater!

The future of shipspotting may well involve stilts. 

Gotta go warm up my potful of Sanka.

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    "The Next Forever" is a song from The Great Immensity. The footage was taken on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal by videographer David Ford. Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.
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