Q1: Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to do this interview! We wanted to ask a few questions about d3.js.
You recently created a d3.js visualization that was used in a TEDx talk. Can you tell me a little bit about how you collected the data for this visualization?
Josh: I got the data from google trends. For example, you type in “Kim Kardashian” and “Miley Cyrus” as search terms. It will show graphs showing the popularity, based on the relative frequency of google searches, of these two celebrities over time. Here’s how it looks like.
The data shown in the graph can be downloaded as a csv file.
It’s worth noting that the graphs aren’t showing the actual aggregate number of google searches. They’re speaking in relative terms, which means that the graph above only shows the interest in Miley relative to Kim, and the interest in Kim relative to Miley.
For the d3 visualization, I got the data (csv files) for search terms of the celebrities and the social issues, and normalized their values so that they all can be compared on a common scale.
Q2: That’s interesting! So all of the data was freely available on Google?
Josh: Yes it’s freely available on Google Trends.
Q3: If it’s OK, I’d like to ask a few questions about the visualization itself and how d3 was used to make it animate. Why did you guys choose d3 for this visualization? Are there any other tools out there that you initially looked at using?
Josh: We chose d3 because it was open source, very customizable and it allowed for interactivity. I thought about using CartoDB for twitter related data but I didn’t want to go through the trouble of scraping thousands or millions of tweets myself.
Q4: Overall, how hard was it to create this visualization in d3? Was the hardest part the basic design of the visualization including pulling the data in? Or was it the animation?
Jose: The hardest part for me was figuring out how to show or hide layers and initialize the chart in a certain state. We had to do a bit of a workaround for that. Creating the whole visualization itself was challenging – from choosing the right chart to embedding the webpage into PowerPoint. But once the hours of coding and learning are done, it is very rewarding.
Q5: What do you like most about working in d3?
Jose: You can do a lot of things with d3 and represent all types of data. The possibilities are endless. I’m very excited in taking on future d3 projects. Check out this page to see more of what d3 can do.
Josh: It’s very flexible, and you’re not restricted to using only certain types of charts or graphs when you’re using d3.
Q6: Were you excited to see your visualization used in a TEDx talk?
Jose: Yes, it was exciting. TEDx is about celebrating ideas and it is nice that our work had been a part of it.
Josh: Yeah. It’s great to show the world what’s possible when you combine data with creativity.
That answers my questions, thanks for the interview guys!