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Beautiful Data by Toby Segaran, Jeff Hammerbacher

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Background

Applying modern practices in online data publishing to crime reporting is not a new idea. Current focus on crime can be traced back to journalist/developer Adrian Holovaty's 2005 project, Chicago Crime (http://chicagocrime.org). Chicago Crime was a prominent, early example of a Google Maps mashup, a website created by combining code and data from numerous other sources. In this case, the still-undocumented Google Maps API (http://code.google.com/apis/maps/) was repurposed as a base for Chicago Police Department crime report information. The police department's own site was a text-driven affair that happened to include street addresses or intersections for every report. Holovaty performed nightly collections of report data and published them on a dynamic, pan-and-zoomable, or "slippy," map. The service was an absolute coup, coming as it did hot on the heels of Google's early 2005 makeover of online mapping best practices. What had previously been limited to primitive line drawing and static images was transformed into an infinitely scrolling, reactive environment for geographic data.

Chicago Crime was not alone. Near the same time, developer Paul Rademacher created Housing Maps (http://housingmaps.com), an analogous combination of apartment rental data and visual browsing. The previous year, Michael Frumin and Jonah Perretti at the New York arts foundation Eyebeam (http://eyebeam.org) created FundRace (http://fundrace.org), a visualization of political contributions to ...

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