Datascientific Search Image

I’m currently experimenting with HTML5 Canvases for a project. Among other things, I created the following “animation”. Here colourful dots are painted onto a canvas at random positions, only one word is left out. The word is randomly drawn from all words on the current page. To find out which word is hidden at which position in the canvas, you have to watch the animation for quite a while..

The animation will only start with activated JavaScript.

While you watch the animation you are actually doing data science! You observe data points and try to abstract from them to find a pattern :)

Admittedly, data science is still a bit differently. But in both cases, individual data points transport relatively little information. Sometimes the information is misleading or distracting: In the animation above, for example, the colour of the points has no meaning at all, it’s just to look pretty… However, when many data points have come together, a pattern emerges and you can first guess where the word is located in the picture, and with further data you can recognize parts or later the entire word. It also becomes clear that the surface does not have to be completely painted - the word can be clearly recognized much earlier.

Data is the oil of the 21st century they all say… Even if I find the comparison a little … not so suitable, the idea behind it is of course not entirely wrong. Data plays an increasingly important role in our lives, just ask Google! When you watch a video on YouTube, Google only knows a little bit about you. If you do this more often, Google will know a little more. If you use Google for every online search, manage your emails via Gmail, and surf the Internet without a tracker-blocker, Google will soon be able to assess you better than you could ever do yourself… The same applies, of course, to all the other small and large players like Facebook or Amazon, who want to track us at every turn. That’s why I plead for data economy: Don’t be so careless about your privacy!

For “copyright” reasons there is no download button for the automatically generated image. So you can’t take it with you, but have to come back if you want to see it again - each time with different data points, of course! So it’s worth coming back every now and then ;-)

The code of the animation is moderately commented and can be downloaded from this webserver.

The first appearance of the WahlBerater

Screenshot of the article about the WahlBerater in SprachRohr
Screenshot of the article about the WahlBerater in SprachRohr

I already introduced the WahlBerater. Now it has made its first appearance outside my event horizon. A short article in the SprachRohr is dedicated to the project on page 42(!), see screenshot. SprachRohr is the student’s journal at the FernUniversität in Hagen, for which we are currently developing the WahlBerater. In the article we briefly describe the project and call for theses.

When I assembled my team I explicitly chose it that nobody is in a party or party affiliation and none of us studies or has studied at the FernUniversität in Hagen. Thus, we are largely independent, but we also do not know much about the situation of students at the university, which is obviously extraordinary: (i) the students rarely live near the university’s location, but are distributed worldwide; (ii) in addition, many do not study full-time, but actually have other jobs; (iii) others have already left the age of compulsory work and now simply want to continue their education; (iv) or something like that (v) and so on….

In any case, we rely on the students to describe their perspective on things. Where do they see problems or potential? What has to definitely change? And so on… Ok. Of course we don’t actually depend on them, we also have plans B and C, but theses from the students are potentially much more valuable!

To collect the theses I set up a LimeSurvey instance and created a survey in which participants can propose up to 6 theses at once. Why 6? We don’t know either. Was a compromise ;-)

LimeSurvey is really exciting! It offers the possibility to implement a lot of logic into a survey, e.g. ask only for a mail address if raffle is selected or ask only for thesis 4 if thesis 3 is filled out. This way participants can easily jump to the last page of the survey by leaving a thesis blank. LimeSurvey is also exciting in other ways, because it non-deterministically and automagically changes various properties of a survey. For example, clicking publish may suddenly change a single-line text field to a multi-line text box, or it suddenly removes dependencies between fields when you add another question. I’m sure the IT-savvy among you understand what a disaster that is!? I’m not sure if I can recommend the tool or if I will use it again myself – apart from the dropouts it’s actually very comfortable, just causes some sleepless nights… If you know a better alternative: Speak up!

By the way, we are still busy developing and organizing. Maybe a screenshot will be leaked soon… ;-)

The Whale becomes WahlBerater

Logo of the WahlBerater
Logo of the WahlBerater

As announced recently there will soon be a new cool tool that aids decision-making at elections! I already spoiled that the new tool is based the concept of the Wahl-O-Mat and that we therefore want to set ourselves a bit apart from DeinWal.

Time has come and after many creative ideas and funny discussions the tool’s name is eventually fixed: Soon, the WahlBerater will actively support you in decision-making at elections! A website is already setup at Of course, a logo and a Twitter account @wahlberater exist as well!

To English the WahlBerater could be translated as consultant for elections. For those non-Germans: the logo is close to a pun. Election in German is Wahl, which has the same pronounciation as Wal, which is the animal whale. Thus, we chose the whale as our heraldic animal :)

We are already busy developing the tool and want to build the WahlBerater in a way that it can easily be reused for other elections. So do not hesitate to contact us if you want to have a WahlBerater as well!