Ivan’s private site

March 13, 2011

Example for the power of open data…

Earthquakes around the globe on the week of the 11th of March

I wish I would not have to use this example… But I just hit it this morning via a tweet of Jim Hendler. RPI has an example on how can one combine public gov data (in this case, a Data.gov dataset on Earthquakes), its RDF version with a SPARQL query, and a visualization tool like Exhibit. The result is an interactive map on Earthquakes of the last week. Running the demo today reveals an incredible amount (over 160) of events on the coast of Honshu, Japan, which led to the earthquake and tsunami disaster on the 11th of March. I do not know how much time it took for Li Ding to prepare the original demo, but I suspect it was not a big deal once the tools were in place.

The demo is dynamic, in the sense that in a week it will probably show some other data than today. So I have made a screen dump for memento (I hope it is all right with Jim and Din). If you are looking at it now, it is worth zooming into the area around Japan to gain some more insight into the sheer dimensions of the disaster: there were  325 quakes (out of 411 around the globe) in that area during the week! I must admit I did not know that…

I have the, hopefully not too naïve, belief that tools like this may not only increase our factual knowledge, but would also help, in future, to help those who are now struggling in coping with the aftermath of this disaster. Yes, having open data, and tools to handle them and integrate them, is really important.



  1. Ivan, I notice you’re posting this using WordPress. It happens that we’ve built Datapress, an Exhibit WordPress plugin. Assuming you are running your own WordPress install, you could one-click install Datapress from the WordPress plugins site and then show the interactive data visualization in your own blog post, linking directly to the data feeding Jim’s example.

    Comment by David Karger — March 14, 2011 @ 5:36

    • Hi David,

      Unfortunately (in this case) I do not run my own WordPress install; instead, I host my blog at WordPress.com. It would be great to have this (and some other) plugins installed by them but, well, that seems to be difficult. Moving to an own installation (beyond the fact that I would have to set up my own instance) would be quite a hassle… Thanks, Ivan.

      Comment by Ivan Herman — March 14, 2011 @ 7:45

  2. As Ivan notes, this is a common problem with WordPress.com – hosted blogs; most of the functionality needed by users for “interesting” posts including even the most basic linked data mashups, and which is available in self-hosted Wordpres, has been suppressed from the “.com” version. Another free “cloud”-hosted option for users is Blogger.com, but there users must dance around Google’s draconian “splog” (spam blog) detection and especially their stupifying process for having one’s blog restored after they unilaterally disable it.
    I’m wondering if the new
    DropPages.com model, based on Dropbox — and which now supports RDF in several forms — might be the best approach to linked data-based blogging and mashing?

    Comment by John Erickson — March 14, 2011 @ 16:05

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