Friday, July 13, 2012

Visualizing communities of reddit.com

What does reddit look like? No doubt it has many faces. Alien faces mostly:

Many faces of reddit

Some time ago I created visualization of related subreddits, where you can type subreddit name and get network of related subreddits:

Network of books related communities

This network was only three levels deep. I didn't show anything further due to rendering limits of SVG.

Recently I added support for WebGL rendering, and now you can see networks with tens of thousands links and nodes (of course if you have modern browser and computer). I couldn't resist the temptation to create visualization of all subreddits to see the whole picture. And here it is:



This network has almost 3 800 communities and shows more than 14 000 connections between these communities. Feel free to check it out and come back to find out more: http://www.yasiv.com/allreddit.

How exactly does it work?

I get information about all subreddits (communities) from reddit.com/reddits and store it in Google App Engine. When I last time indexed all subreddits there was a limit of 25 000 items. Reddit doesn't give any more, but it is enough to get started. Oh, and there is no 'adult' communities in this list, sorry.

Some of subreddits in their description have links to other communities. I parse this information and consider every link as a connection between two communities. E.g. if you go to /r/pics there are links to other communities in description:

Example of links from /r/pics subreddit


Those become connections in visualization (but only if I can find referenced community among indexed ones).

I also excluded from visualization all isolated communities: If no other community has a link to the current I'm not showing it. Otherwise the whole visualization becomes overwhelmed with outer circle of not connected dots:

Outer circle is made of isolated subreddits

It's also very expensive to render them all at once (still have to improve performance of the drawing library).

So what?

For me it was an exercise. I wanted to see this face of reddit and I saw it. Satisfied :). 

But I also hope this visualization can help you discover new subreddits. It's fairly easy to search subreddits on specific subject. Just type something that matters to you in the search box on the top and visualization highlights related communities. E.g. here is a search for "book" related communities:

Books related subreddits within larger picture

For those of you who run ads on reddit this tool could also be useful when considering which communities should be your target audience.

Hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think :).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Introducing Youtube Visualization

You are watching YouTube video. You like it and click on the first related video. You enjoy that one too and click related video again, just to realize you've just watched it. Does this sound familiar? I've been in this situation many times. Last Sunday I though why can't I show related videos the same way as I show related products from Amazon?

One night for YouTube API integration another for player window and here we go: Yasiv For YouTube

YouTube Visualization
Here is a video, demonstrating visualization in action:


I seeded it with Beirut band, but you feel free to experiment with your favorite artists, game reviewers,  comedians and whatnot.

Size matters

When Yasiv ends gathering data from YouTube it rescales video images according to their rating and views count. So you can instantly see what is worth your time and what is not:

Skyrim Related Videos Visualization
Central image is always big with no regard whether it's good or not.


Visualizing specific video

If you found video you like on YouTube and want to see its relationships - just copy a link from YouTube into search box in Yasiv - it will do all the magic. Or, even easier, use a button described in this post. As of now it supports both Amazon and YouTube.

That's it for now. Hope you enjoy this new way to explore YouTube. Would love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Yasiv Goes International

Starting as of today Yasiv provides services to visualize international Amazon sites. This was one of the most requested feature and now you can choose your country at the bottom of the site:



When you do so data will be coming from corresponding store in USA, Japan, China, Canada, Italy, France, Spain, UK or Germany. The site itself will be having labels in English but eventually if it is be proven to be useful I will localize them as well.

Here are more examples of 1Q84 book, visualized in different stores:


1Q84 - Japan

1Q84 - Canada

1Q84 - China

1Q84 - Germany

1Q84 - Spain

1Q84 - France

1Q84 - Italy

1Q84 - UK

1Q84 - USA

Would love to hear what you think :)!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Visualize Amazon From Amazon

My friends Restuta and Bas kept telling me they want to have "Visualize this" button straight on Amazon site. I think this is a great idea, and here you go. Drag the button below to browser's bookmarks bar and try clicking it while you are at Amazon:


When you use it first time make sure you allow it to pass through popup blocker.

Here is how to do it:


Unblocking popups is required only once and after that you can view network of similar products for any product on Amazon.com.

Hope you enjoy it :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What's New In January?

The service is pretty young and I keep improving it bit by bit every day. Here is the most significant changes I made in January 2012.

Larger dataset

Amazon limits number of requests per hour one can make. I added caching on the server side to reduce load on Amazon servers and handle requests myself. This allowed me to increase number of items per visualization:


Before, I considered only items similar to the central element and items similar to them. Now I added one more level to consideration: items, similar to items, similar to items, similar to the central element (confusing, huh?).


Customer Reviews

Sidebar now contains all available product reviews from Amazon:
One of the most requested feature is ability to see products rating straight on the site. Unfortunately Amazon has closed this part of API, and there is no way to get ratings at the moment. I still hope that having customer reviews embedded on the sidebar should help to choose the right item easier.


Amazon Links

Now you can paste links directly from Amazon to Yasiv to explore similar items visually:






That's it for now. As usual I'm more than welcome to your feedback and I pretty much need it. Would love to hear what you think about these small changes :)!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Best Books to Learn Usability And Game Design

When I have to learn a new subject I google for experts opinions and suggestions to find the best starting point. The process is pretty straightforward: Go through many reviews before making a decision to invest time and money into a book. In this post I compare best books suggestions from experts and from Yasiv. Side by side, screenshot by screenshot, no prejudice.

For the sake of experiment I decided to pick two areas: Usability and Game Design. They are close to my professional interests but you can easily do the same test for your own field.

Usability

Google query is: best books to learn usability. The results led to Smashing Magazine's article Usability and Interface Design Books by Alexis Brion. Alexis suggestions are:



They are indeed all great books. Let's try the same query in Yasiv:
Usability Books Visualization
Five out of ten recommended books are on the graph plus several new good books released after Alexis's article. The number of connections between books in this category shows their relative popularity among readers. On the chart above, top 3 usability books are: About Face, The Design of Everyday Things and Designing with the Mind in Mind.

Let's move further to our next experiment and find best books in Game Design.

Game Design

This time I entered in Google search game design books. I specifically ignored results from Amazon, because Yasiv uses their database, and there is no point in proving that they both show the same. Instead I picked the first answers from Game Development Stack Exchange site. This is a community driven site where visitors vote for the best answers. The question from esde84:
Are there any game design books that are not aimed at a particular programming language?
The most voted answers suggest the following books:



Let's visualize this query in Yasiv:

Game Design Books Visualization
Four out of six books are on the chart. Top three most popular books in Game Design category are: The Art of Game Design, Challenges for Game Designers and Reality Is Broken.


Drawbacks


As I said in the previous post Amazon has tremendous database of customers preferences. Sometimes it can work as a virtual expert and suggest excellent starting points. But for the new books it has to learn customers reactions. It means some time should pass before charts would properly reflect them. How long does it take Amazon to learn our habits? I don't know.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

You Do - I Do: Idea Behind Yasiv

Let's face it: We tend to do or buy what other people are doing or buying. If voice of uniqueness inside your head protests, ask it why did you join Facebook? What about the last movie, book or game that your friends recommended?

And that's not a bad thing after all. In a risk of stating obvious, we are overwhelmed with information and having "filters" in form of friends recommendations help us not to sink. 

Yasiv takes this idea further and shows a network of products that are bought by like-minded people:


Diagram above shows customers preferences for the data visualization books. Each link on the diagram means that two books are often bought together. To find the most popular book all we have to do is count number of connections. The most connected product is most frequently bought with all other products in the domain, hence there should be a reason. In the diagram above such product is book by Nathan Yau "Visualize This".

Why is it so popular? That's for me to not know and for you to find out. Maybe it's a good marketing campaign or maybe the product is astonishingly good.

So what?

Let's say you are in situation when you have to study a new field. What do you usually do? You ask an expert (if you have one in your circles) what is a good starting point, or you google a lot, read reviews and make a decision what to read. With Yasiv you do exactly the same thing but much faster. Just type a search query and find the most popular book in the area. Chances are it's the one recommended by experts to other learners, who actually bought it.

Where does the data come from?

Yasiv uses Amazon's database of products and purchases. In 2010 Amazon.com had in net sales 90 million dollars every day. While you were reading this article Amazon has sold goods to the amount of $150 000. And all this information is available at our disposal. Yasiv takes it and transform it into more consumable format.

Not convinced yet?

Try it yourself: http://www.yasiv.com/amazon - type in your favorite book name and decide whether believe it or not. 

If you like Yasiv, please let me know. If you don't like it - go away. Nah, just kidding. Of course share it with me. Your feedback is very welcomed on this blog :).