My Instagram network, visualised

My Instagram network, visualised

A visualisation showing my Instagram network (user ‘speedoflife’). The image shows all the users I either follow or am followed by, and the relationships between them. Different colours show different ‘modules’, or communities, in the network.

My Instagram network (detail)

Notes: The data was taken from the Instagram API using Python, and loaded into the NetworkX package for analysing networks. It was then exported into the GraphML format, which allowed it to be loaded into the Gephi software and visualised. From Gephi it was exported to PDF, tidied up in Illustrator, and finally exported to PNG format.

Scholarly dedication

Two stories of scholarly dedication from Peter Watson’s The German Genius. The first is about Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the classical scholar, art historian and archaeologist:

After Berlin, Winckelmann transferred to the universities of Halle and Jena, where he studied medicine, philosophy and mathematics, supporting himself as a tutor. He would read Greek til midnight, sleep in an old coat in an armchair until four in the morning, when he would resume reading. In the summer months he slept on a bench with a block of wood tied to his foot which fell down at the slightest movement and wakened him.

iPhone geolocation tracking

I can’t be the only person who greeted the news that my iPhone had been tracking geolocation data for the past two years with enthusiasm rather than outrage. Apple’s dodgy data storage practices aside, I’m suddenly able to plot my movements, with minimal effort, in a way similar to the guys over at The Quantified Self or the beautiful visualizations in Nicholas Felton’s annual reports.

iPhone geolcation map

The map above was created with iPhone Tracker, an open-source program available here. There are a few anomalies – for example two trips to the north-west I know I made are missing, and I appear to have visited Edinburgh without remembering. However, plotting my movement over the past two years in this way has given me the eerie sense of insight you get when familiar information is represented in an unfamiliar, bird’s-eye view.

Phantoms on the Bookshelves

A lovely passage on the joys of a life of reading from Jacques Bonnet’s Phantoms on the Bookshelves:

“And how do you read your books? And where?” Anywhere, and in any position. I am at any rate very far from the refinement of Guarino, of whom Anthony Grafton tells us that he “liked to read a text while out in a boat, his book on his knees. This way he could enjoy the pleasures of reading simultaneously with the sight of the fields and the vineyards”. Seated, standing, walking – why not? But the ideal is to be lying down, as if the position allows the text to enter the body more easily. Reading has enabled me to shorten the longest journeys, not to notice the hours I have spent waiting in airports, and for two decades to put up with meetings as futile as they were interminable, but which I could not escape.

Predictions of the iPad

Here’s an enormously prescient passage from Donald Norman’s 1988 book The Design of Everyday Things:

The computer of the future is perhaps indicated by my imaginary perfect calendar. Suppose I am home one evening, deciding whether to accept an invitation to attend a conference next May. I pick up my appointment calendar and turn to the appropriate page. I tentatively decide that I can attend and pencil in the topic. The calendar flashes at me and displays a note reminding me that the university will still be in session during that period and that the trip overlaps my wife’s birthday. I decide that the conference is important, so I make a note to check whether I can get someone to take over my classes and to see whether I can leave the conference early for the birthday.