Wednesday, March 18, 2015

College Basketball Recruiting Footprints

On the cusp of full-blown March Madness, I took a look at the recruiting footprints of each of the top 25 men's college basketball teams (at the end of the regular season) and worked out their Air Mile Index, as is my way. If you're new to it, the Air Mile Index (likely correlated with the assistant coaches' divorce rate) is a rating of how far, overall, a team had to reach to lure players to their program. FYI, an Air Mile Index of ten is mega local (#2-ranked Villanova, are you kidding me?!) while thirty is really far-reaching (Gonzaga!!).

Air Mile Index Maps

Here are the Air Mile Indexes of the top 25:


























Distribution

And here are all those players from above, in one map. Of course there are some obvious city clusters, but this is by no means a rubber stamp of population.



Weird. Check out California, for instance. Players come from two cities in California. The sprawling megalopolis population of the eastern seaboard? Eh. Population big-shots Florida and Texas? Eh eh. It's like wherever corn is grown, so are top-25 collegiate basketball players. When an assistant coach is flying around for recruits, they might as well just look down, and if they see this:


 ...go ahead and jump out right there.

Were you curious about those threads in some of the team maps that extend beyond the map to players' distant hometowns? You can check out all that nitty gritty at the team roster lists. Speaking of distant hometowns, The Air Mile Index takes the square root of a player's hometown distance, so outlier players like the ones below have an ever-decreasing impact on the overall team average. Here is a world map of those national and international hometowns:



Data

I scraped the team rosters on ESPN.com to get player name, info, and hometowns. Then I Geocoded their hometown and their team venues. Then I used ArcMap to draw connections between those to-from coordinates, in a projection that preserves relative distance. Then I calculated their distances and whipped up the team Air Mile Indexes in Excel. Then I made maps that include these distances over a NASA satellite image.  I did it by exporting each layer as a PNG and composing them in Fireworks. Then I wrote about the maps here. Then I posted links to all this derived data:




 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Night Lights of the Great Lakes

Here is a map of all lighthouses and lighted buoys (as far as the US and Canadian Coast Guards are concerned, anyway) in the Great Lakes.


Thanks much to Josh Stevens, for his early data spelunking and his encouragement.
If you like scraping and cleaning up endless PDFs, then this project is for you! Here is a list of Great Lakes (District 9) lights in US waters. And here are the lights in the territorial waters of our lovely Canadian neighbors.

This map was my Mom's idea (I'm not terribly interested in lighthouses, but she suggested it after seeing the earthquake map) and carried with it some kinetic energy. It was slow to start, difficult to stop, and was quite some time in the making and re-making and re-making.  I am satisfied to see the results but at the same time a little nostalgic to watch one more living thread that I associate strongly with someone I miss...wind down. But that's life.

  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Designing a Workplace Just for Us

Over the past year or so I've been working with a small team of other IDVers to help find a new home for our office and throw in on how that new home ought to be.  It was an exciting/tiring process and I'm happy with the results, proud of my cohorts, and relieved it's over.
It was an opportunity to design a space just for IDV, which was a real thrill having worked in inherited spaces for ten years.

What we wanted in a new location
Over the course of designing the office layout (and, before that, the office location) we had lots of staff-wide Lunch & Learns to let folks share what they hoped for in a new space.  This was the most important raw material for our team conversations and design sessions.  Generally, here is what people wanted, which may not be any different than what folks at your organization want:
  • Natural light (in the electromagnetic sense, not necessarily in the crisp refreshing and affordable libation sense)
    Our previous location was the former executive floor of an insurance company.  This meant, of course, that offices lined the perimeter of windows, leaving behind a dearth of life-sustaining photons to the cave fish straddling the long inner hallway.
  • More meeting places
    We craved more spaces to gather, both for closed-door conference call sessions and for informal gathering clusters to share progress/ideas/chatter.  There just weren't enough official places to meet and as good-natured as we all feel for each other, of course frequent minor turf skirmishes were inevitable.
  • No cubicles
    That was the easy, specific, message, but the undertone was a desire for a layout that better facilitated collaboration.  An unfortunate constraint in our previous location was that we occupied pretty much a long hallway.  Sometimes it was referred to as the submarine, which you can imagine isn't the ideal layout for popping over and discussing ideas with any number of people.
  • An accessible kitchen
    Queuing for, and subsequently devouring, lunch is an important part of our days.  Previously we jammed through a door into a small kitchen with some make-do buffet tables.  It was alright, and of course it worked, but when you are designing from scratch you can design for specific workflow and get way better results than making do.  UX is UX.

Transparency
My overarching goal was/is to be as open to the staff as possible, throughout this (and other) process(es), which isn't all that different from a typical customer engagement except this time we were the customers -lots of communication and input, few surprises.  This included meetings early-on where we pinned everybody's home locations and calculated drive-times to get a sense of suitable site locations, unfettered input on preferences and ideas, debates on corporate/work-space/office philosophy, and lots of image-heavy FYI updates on the planning and building process all the way through.

Chris Fisher worked tirelessly with the team through dozens of revisions for a handful of location candidates to design a floorplan that was open, light, and gave us room for growth. Marcus Greathouse kept a living SketchUp model running throughout the planning phase to help understand the space and keep folks in the loop.

The new place!
We tried to design a layout that was open enough to provide a sense of easy collaboration, but modular enough to break up noise travel and serve as neighborhoods to anchor base-level teams.
Most offices are interior, to allow for lots of outdoor views and natural light to pass deep into the office.  Interior offices are arranged along a row and are a little like a walkable street-front with views out to the community.  The open layout of the workstation neighborhoods was my biggest concern, but the early response has been really favorable.





The kitchen is a link between the large formal meeting area and the rest of the office, and the first thing you see when walking in.  It's a lot like a home that I would want to live in, in that way.  In many ways, the kitchen has become the cultural nucleus of IDV and ours is an open and bright and flow-friendly place to be.

The kitchen is the hub that joins the entrance with work spaces, the main conference room, and phone booths.

A ginormous bar where TWO ROWS of IDVers can stream on through, piling those plates high, minimizing queue-to-consumption time, and maximizing lunch goodness.

There are lots of unassigned nooks where anybody can duck-out or where visitors and offsite employees can camp for the day.  We have several unassigned "slip seat" offices, four phone booth nooks, three tucked away collaboration areas with couches and club chairs, and a library where you can hunker down (this is an important resource, given our open seating plan).
Also, there is a dedicated ping pong room where dedicated ping pong players get the wiggles out. This is the nerve center of IDV and by far the most important room.

Frank Tan in one of the collaboration areas (or, in this case, collaboration). We all installed ChromeCast and can stream our devices onto the wall monitors. I'm fond of blasting Nessun Dorma out to teams of surprised developers. You're welcome.

You can find more images at IDV's Facebook page.

Adventure and perspective
In most respects, my role here at IDV is exactly the same as it was when I started here ten years ago.  On the surface, that can sound like a real drag; ten years is a long time -a big chunk of my life.  The exact same job.  But the wild card in a statement like that is, in a smaller company, your role includes helping out wherever you can -and a "job description" is an infrequent formality that (increasingly) doesn't/shouldn't mean a whole lot.  It's the sort of environment that, when you realize how flexible your contributions can be, invites certain on-ramps into professional adventures that you couldn't have predicted (this blog, and it's visualizations, rants, etc., is an example of that).
You get hired for certain things, and then you figure out how you can best help out.  I guess what I mean to say is that in the right company, just about anybody can be a special teams player.  And the longer you stay, the less accurate your title becomes -if you want it that way.

On move day, we all met for pizza at the new place, having packed up our boxes at the old.

John McPherson welcomes an early-bird IDVer to the new place, while desks are being assembled.

So long, submarine.  This is the strongly-linear space of the old place, as we pack up the last of the boxes.  In 2006 I felt like a champion moving here but the mega-long orientation was a real drag on collaboration (and devoid of natural light).

Chuck Fields took on an enormous extra effort to coordinate the design and construction, and orchestrate the complex move of a technology company and all of its living and electrical parts.

Advice
A building is just a building, and for what it's worth, they have to pay you to be there.  But considering you spend a massive proportion of your waking time there, some care should be taken in making the best of it.  Here are some heads ups around planning a work space that you can take from me, for whatever they're worth.
  • Get input from everybody and keep them posted.
  • Think about how your business flows and try to replicate that in a floor plan.
  • Note well what blows about your current space and improve on it.
  • Be prepared to make compromises, especially when the estimates start rolling in.

That is all.  Abraços,
John


Friday, December 19, 2014

2014 Recap


Compared to previous years, the activity in this 2014 run-down is mayyybe tough evidence of the long tail of my muse slipping away.  I'll need more data points to say this with confidence, of course.  They come and go; it's ok.
Life is a big ledger of cost and opportunity cost -but it's also a wonderful adventure; I'm concentrating on recognizing loveliness in things that are inherently lovely and looking for the loveliness in things that are, on their surface, unlovely.

So here's a recap of those times when I couldn't keep that to myself...

Visualizations
Occasionally, some pile of data will drag itself across my eyeballs and I can't not try to see it as a picture. Here are some manifestations of that.


Know-it-all-iness
Here are a couple wordy posts where I advise on crap like professional fulfillment and communication, for whatever that's worth.


Textures and Bathymetry
I had a lot of fun trying to make realistic-looking surfaces by marrying bathymetry map layers and material textures like slate and wood. When the universe was bashing skeuomorphism, I was having a great time reveling in ratcheted-up phony carto realism.


How and Why
For a nerd like me, reminiscing how and why I made things is just as fun as the making, and it also serves as a nice feedback loop for appreciating the process of creation and the fun in sharing that with others.



And here's a look at the relative interest the internet had in these posts...



Anyway, be thankful for your 2014 and do well in 2015. All the best,
John

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2015 College Football Playoff

The first round of the first ever College Football Playoff will occur on January 1, 2015. #1-ranked Alabama will play #4-ranked Ohio State, and #2-ranked Oregon will play #3-ranked Florida State. And of course the winners of those games go on to play in a mega awesome national championship game.

The First Two Games
Alabama and Ohio State: North versus South. Here are the hometowns of all of the players on those teams, who will meet at the Sugar Bowl:

The recruiting footprints of Sugar Bowl teams, Alabama and Ohio State.


Oregon and Florida State: West versus East. Here are the hometowns of all of the players on those teams, who will meet at the Rose Bowl:

The recruiting footprints of Rose Bowl teams, Oregon and Florida State.

A Closer Look at the Teams
Here are the individual teams' hometown maps, with a calculation of the recruiting footprint (the Air Mile Index, 10 is mega-local, 30 is insanely broad), numbers of players per class, and the programs' stated revenues and expenses (I did a basic difference to show the net) over the latest four seasons.

#1 Alabama

#2 Oregon

#3 Florida State

#4 Ohio State