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This interactive wind map is a Big Data lava lamp

And you thought Big Data wasn't really that useful!

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If you're reading El Reg you're obviously taking a little break from your workday [au contraire - you're enriching your portfolio of business-critical knowledge in a fashion which your boss would heartily endorse - Ed]. And if you want to amuse yourself with how a big data set with proper visualization can not only change your understanding of that data but also turn out to be absolutely hypnotic, then you need to check out the wind map.

Here's what the current wind map of the United States put together with real-time data from the National Weather Service's National Digital Forecast Database over at the Weather Underground looks like:

Wind map, static

Static wind map, compliments of Weather Underground (click to enlarge)

Lots of data in there, with the size of the arrows showing you the relative wind speed and the direction of the arrows showing you where the wind is going when it blows.

Now, take a gander at the static image of the dynamic wind map created by big data visualization experts Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg at Flowing Media, a collaboration between the two established in 2003. Viégas and Wattenberg have day jobs at Google's "Big Picture" visualization research group in Cambridge, Massachusetts and they used to work together running IBM's visual communications lab before that.

Wind map, dynamic

Static image of the dynamic wind map from Hint FM (click to enlarge)

The static image does not do it justice. You have to watch the wind in motion to get a real feel for how powerful this visualization is. It's a 21st century lava lamp.

Now get back to work [actually he was right, wasn't he - Ed]. ®

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