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Tools of the Day: Sparktweets and Chartwell

Two neat data visualization tools recently came on the scene which will be a great help for journalists and datamongers alike: Sparktweets and Chartwell.

Sparktweets is the brainchild of Zach Seward, Outreach Editor for The Wall Street Journal. Sparktweets builds on Edward Tufte’s invention, the sparkline, which is a small, high-resolution graph embedded in a context of words, numbers, or images. You see these mostly used on financial websites to describe the rise and fall of stocks, but Sparktweets takes this idea and builds on it by embedding Unicode histograms within Twitter’s 140-character limit. The effect is pretty neat. Take a look at these.

Sparktweets in @WSJ: ▇▆▆▇▇▇▇▅▂▁▁▂ Last 12 months of the U.S. unemployment rate http://bit.ly/mex1kyless than a minute ago via Sprout Social Favorite Retweet Reply


▁▆▇▃ Number of baby boys named Barack, 2007-2010. (5,52,69,28) #sparktweetless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Create your own Sparktweets here: http://www.datacollective.org/sparkblocks.html


The second tool I came across recently is a font called Chartwell from font designer Travis Kochel with TK Type. Creating pie charts, line graphs, and bar graphs has never been so simple. Just type your data numbers into an equation and you can have a graph in just a few seconds. In line with current trends, you can also embed the use of this font using the CSS3 property @font-face to create live charts on the fly (currently, this only works in Firefox 4). Travis includes more information on the Chartwell page at http://www.tktype.com/chartwell.php.

Chartwell Pie ChartsChartwell Pie Charts

Chartwell Line Charts

The fonts are $15 each (pie, bar, or line), or $40 for the entire set.

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