I’m in the middle of writing a paper, and I needed a distraction. This year’s Day of DH was last week. I have been playing with the data for the past couple of days. Also, I was curious about the D3.js visualisation library, released by Mike Bostocks, the guy of protovis fame. So, I wrote a visualisation using the library and the RSS feed of the Day of DH blogs.

It contains two timelines: the first one displays all the posts, and the second one displays a subset. The subset is marked on the first timeline in blue. The two small grey handles control the extremes of the subset; drag them to limit or expand the selection. Each post is represented by a blue bubble. The size of the bubble changes according to the number of words in the post. If you hover the mouse over a bubble, the title and author of the post will appear. Also, the post will be marked in orange (in both timelines, if the post is within the selection).

This visualisation is experimental. It takes advantage of some fairly new technology, which is, unfortunately, not available in legacy browsers, including every version of Internet Explorer.

After a bit of experimentation, and some head banging, I am very excited about the D3.js library. Most of the headaches were due to the lack of documentation. It is a fairly new project; so the headaches were knowingly self inflicted. The declarative nature of the library makes sense, once you get used to it.

I recommend reading through the tutorials. I spent too much time fighting with the transitions, until I re-read the tutorial and I understood them better.


Today I reloaded the data to include the latest posts. Some people updated the first “Hello World” post, created by default by Wordpress. So I created a second visualisation which uses the updated time rather than the published time for the posts. Take a look: