Real estate heat maps

When you’ve got good data, heat maps can be a particularly gorgeous way to take it all in. Following links back from Paul Kedrosky’s blog to Valleywag and then Zillow, I came across these beautiful real estate price heat maps of some of the most expensive places on the planet. The folks at Zillow have worked out the price per square foot of real estate in Seattle and most of the San Francisco Bay Area. The images are remarkable, and if you know the areas covered, you can linger over them for a long time, making up stories about why houses cost so much over there but not over there. I’ve decided that’s the acid test for really great data presentation: can you pore over it for hours making up stories? If the answer is yes, then you’re on to something big.

Sounds from around the world

I have become accustomed to pictures from around the world. Even the lush, lovely, well-taken photos from exotic places.

Here is something rarer and more emotionally immediate: well-recorded sounds from around the world. The Quiet American is a collection of raw and remixed sounds by San Francisco traveler and artist Aaron Ximm. We hear extremely processed sound all the time. Like processed food, it gets a little same-y after a while. I find it very satisfying to listen to the short tracks on the Quiet American for the sonic equivalent of fresh brightly colored vegetables and spices. From Nepal, for example, we have the sounds of the forest (mp3) and of a stream high in the Himalayas. Or maybe you fancy the sounds of a Burmese ox cart? Lovely!