ICM Final – The Beautiful Game

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 3.27.09 PM


See it Live



I knew right away that I wanted to do a data visualization for my ICM final, mostly as a technical challenge, but I had a hard time coming up with a topic that was meaningful to me. Dano suggested that I spend some time thinking about a question that I wanted to ask, and use that as a way to frame the project. I sat with that for a while and found myself thinking about why I liked data visualization at all. I realized that I’m curious about how good visualizations can reveal not just what we know, but how we know.

In the US right now Wikipedia is treated like the repository of human knowledge, when in reality it’s far from it. When we check Wikipedia what we see is just a momentary record of the activity of adding, editing, and deleting information by contributors. It’s more of a reflection of things a certain group of people are interested in, rather than a record of everything that exists. (But maybe that’s what knowledge is anyway, we can only really learn about and experience a very limited slice of the world.)

I realized that I wanted to see if I could find ways that our understanding of the world was limited, to find the edges of our knowing and understanding. To that end, I decided to explore the possibility of unseen imbalances and limitations on Wikipedia. My original proposal was to create a mapping of all the event articles that could be scrubbed through by year. I was hoping to uncover under-documented regions and time periods, but I didn’t really know what I was going to find. I was asking a question, rather than making something that I had tightly planned out.

The technical end of this project was an interesting challenge. I had to know know what kind of data was available and how it was organized to create the visualization, but I had to know what kind of data scheme was best for the visualization in order to process the data. The result was that I had to work both ends of the project at once, without having a completely clear idea of how they would join together. It was kind of like digging a tunnel from both ends and having faith that they would meet in the middle. My process ended up being watching d3.js tutorials, working through example exercises, and researching the Wikipedia API without having a strict final project design in mind. I trusted that the correct visualization would become clear as I worked through the technology.

At a certain point I realized that I was going to have to scale back the dataset I was using for this project. Using all the history articles on Wikipedia is simply beyond the scope of my skills right now. I had to pick a slice of the data to use instead. There were a lot of options but I ended up going with soccer. I really liked this dataset because it was a manageable size, but also because I feel like it still encapsulates most of the original idea. Soccer a truly global sport with a long history. There’s also the sense that international rivalries that would have previously found an outlet in marital conflict can be settled on the soccer pitch.


Wikipedia – My original desire was to create a visualization with live data using the Wikipedia API. It turns out that the wikipedia API is actually just the MediaWiki API, the wiki platform that Wikipedia uses, and is much better suited for gathering data about and manipulating the structure of Wikipedia, rather than reading its contents. (This awesome project for example).

Another option for getting the data straight from Wikipedia would be to scrape the site itself and create a custom dataset for the visualization. Many historical events have these great information boxes that summarize the event. Scraping the data out would get you everything you need to make a visualization. This approach is nice in that it would allow for complete customizability, but is bad in that it is extremely annoying. Scraping the data would not be that hard, the difficult part is that there is no information standardization on Wikipedia. Not all historical events have information boxes and there is a great deal of variation when they do exist. Scraping the data and putting it into a manageable form is really the kind of thing that you’d rather have someone else do for you. The good news is, someone already has

DBpedia & Wikidata.org – DBpedia and Wikidata.org are both projects that seek to take wikipedia contents and put it into a more searchable form. If you are looking for content from wikipedia for your application, using one of these is probably the way to go.

The problem that I ran into was that I had no idea how to query the data. Both projects use the SPARQL query language and store the data as RDF. Even after researching both SPARQL and RDF, I basically had no idea how to use either. Learning more about different query types seems like a great project for the future.

Static Data Sets – The easiest thing for me ended up being a static dataset released by DBpedia. The problem here was that the dataset was still absolutely huge; there were several I couldn’t even open. Also, after looking at them it became clear that the data would need a lot of cleanup. The location data was not all in the same format and would need to be normalized. I ended up doing a lot of this work manually in a spreadsheet and then using a pivot table to sort the data into a more useful form. Then I turned that information into json for the visualization.


d3.js – I really wanted to learn d3.js. In many ways this project was created as an exercise to learn the technology. I did this mostly through the examples, documentation, and youtube tutorials. The technology is pretty straightforward, as long as you want to make something that they’ve already built. Deviating from what they’ve designed causes issues.

One difficulty I ran into with d3.js is that method chaining makes it difficult to debug. it’s hard to print something to the console to see if your data is being loaded correctly. Though, it seems like this is really something that will get better with more practice.

What’s Next

Learning how to read and update text & Getting better at manipulating datasets – This project really ended up being a data project rather than a visualization and it would have gone a lot faster if I could have done more of the data manipulation programmatically.  

Think more about design – This project didn’t leave a lot of time for the design and layout considerations, which is honestly what I was really interested in. Going back and polishing this up later is going to be a good exercise.

Learn more d3.js – There is a lot of easy functionality here, making more charts,graphs and learning about transitions and animations seems like it will be a good skill for making complex interactive visualizations.

Leave d3.js behind – Truthfully, d3.js is a little boring. There’s a ton you can do with it, but there’s so much more that’s out there. I’d really like to be able to make whatever I imagine and that requires more than one javascript library.

Go further with Wikipedia data – Wikipedia is really interesting and really comes back to the core of what interests me in general. There was an example on Wikidata.org on how to list French people who have entries on english Wikipeida, but not on frech Wikipedia. That seems really interesting and I want to find out what kind of stuff is out there. Using Wikipedia as a framework for examining what we know and how we know seems very fruitful.

Bouncing Ball Array


I wanted to make a whole bunch of bouncing balls, so that eventually I can add them back into the pong game. I ran into a couple of problems

Too many circles:

I banged my head against this one for a while, until I remembered that we actually did a bouncing ball example in class. I pulled up that code and compared it to mine. Turns out I was creating circles in draw as well as setup, so I was getting way more circles than I wanted. I removed that line of code and everything was good

Balls disappear:

I added some acceleration to the balls, so after they hit the ‘walls’ they would go faster. After I did this the balls would eventually disappear. Maybe they were going faster than the frame rate?


Stuff that would be cool to add to bouncing balls:

  • Balls bounce off each other.
  • Balls are added every second, rather than all at once.


Working with Jesse’s code. 


Jesse sent me the code for his evil peeps, so I added my bouncing and moving code to the peeps. I’m sure that there’s a lot in the code that doesn’t need to be, since my method was basically to paste in his code and then delete things until it worked correctly. That basically worked.


My bouncing ball code:

var circles = [];
//var circle;

function setup() {
  createCanvas(1000, 700);

  for (var i = 0; i <= 100; i++) {
    circles[i] = new Ball();



function draw() {
  background(64, 161, 76);

  //if (millis() < 5000){
  fill(198, 237, 44);
  for (var i = 0; i <= 100; i++) {
    //circles[i] = new Ball();


  /*for (var i = 0; i < 100; i++) { circles[i].move(); circles[i].display(); }*/ } function Ball() { this.xpos = random(width); this.ypos = random(height); this.xdir = random (-5, 5); this.ydir = random (-5, 5); this.display = function() { noStroke(); ellipse(this.xpos, this.ypos, 20, 20); } this.move = function() { this.xpos = this.xpos + this.xdir; this.ypos = this.ypos + this.ydir; } this.bounce = function() { if (this.xpos >= width || this.xpos <= 0) { this.xdir = this.xdir * -1 } if (this.ypos >= height || this.ypos <= 0) {
      this.ydir = this.ydir * -1

Infinite Pong, again


This week, much like last week, was an exercise in not getting as much done as I would have liked. Adding functions to my previous code was a breeze, until I ran it and kept getting an uncaught reference error. It took me ages to figure out where I was missing a curly bracket and I felt like a right fool the whole time I was looking. Oh well! It remains remarkably satisfying when your code works, even when all it is is a meager refactor.

ar gameStart = false;
var paddleL = {
  x: 10,
  y: 100,
  w: 15,
  h: 100,
var paddleR = {
  x: 770,
  y: 100,
  w: 15,
  h: 100,
var ball = {
  x: 50,
  y: 20,
  diam: 25,
  speedX: 5,
  speedY: 5,
var speedX = 5;
var speedY = 5;
var paddleSpeed = 12;
var s = "Welcome to Infinte Pong! Player one controlls their paddle with the a and z keys. Player two controls their paddle with the /? key and the '\" key. Press the space bar to begin";

/*function down(x){
 x = x + 5;

function setup() {
  createCanvas(800, 600);
  //text(s, 10, 10, 70, 80);

function draw() {

  //if (keyPressed(32) === true) {
  gameStart === true;
    background(64, 161, 76);


  function createBall() {
    //Create ball
    fill(198, 237, 44);
    ellipse(ball.x, ball.y, ball.diam, ball.diam);

    ball.x = ball.x + speedX;
    ball.y = ball.y + speedY;

  function createLeftPaddle() {
    //Create the left paddle
    fill(0, 50, 50);
    rect(paddleL.x, paddleL.y, paddleL.w, paddleL.h);
    //Control the left paddle
    if (keyIsDown(90) === true) {
      if (paddleL.y + paddleL.h < height - 5) { paddleL.y = paddleL.y + paddleSpeed; } } if (keyIsDown(65) === true) { if (paddleL.y > 5) {
        paddleL.y = paddleL.y - paddleSpeed;

  function createRightPaddle() {
    //Create the right paddle
    fill(50, 50, 0);
    rect(paddleR.x, paddleR.y, paddleR.w, paddleR.h);
    //Control the right paddle

    if (keyIsDown(191) === true) { //move paddle down
      if (paddleR.y + paddleR.h < height - 5) { paddleR.y = paddleR.y + paddleSpeed; } } if (keyIsDown(222) === true) { //move paddle up if (paddleR.y > 5) {
        paddleR.y = paddleR.y - paddleSpeed;


  function ballBounceTopAndBottom() {

    //If if the ball hits the top or bottom of the court it bounces
    if (ball.y + 12.5 > height || ball.y < 12.5 && ball.x > 0 && ball.x < width && ball.y > 0 && ball.y < height) { speedY = speedY * -1; //reverse the direction of the motion ball.y = ball.y + speedY; //keeps things moving print("wham"); } } function ballBounceRight() { //if the x of the edge ball is more than the x of the right paddle and //the y of the ball is greater than the y of the rectangle and //less than the y of the rectangle plus the height if (ball.x + 12.5 > paddleR.x && ball.y + 12.5 > paddleR.y && ball.y + 12.5 < paddleR.y + paddleR.h && ball.x > 0 && ball.x < width && ball.y > 0 && ball.y < height) { speedX = speedX * -1; //This reverses the direction, I think ball.x = ball.x + speedX; //This keeps the ball moving print("bam"); } //if the edge of the ball is lower than rect y and //the x of the ball is greater than the x of the rect and less than the width else if (ball.y + 12.5 > paddleR.y && ball.y < paddleR.y + paddleR.y + paddleR.h && ball.x + 12.5 > paddleR.x && ball.x < paddleR.x + paddleR.x && ball.x > 0 && ball.x < width && ball.y > 0 && ball.y < height) {
      speedY = speedY * -1; //reverse the direction of the motion
      ball.y = ball.y + speedY; //keeps things moving
      print("bam top");

    //if the edge of the ball is higher than rect y plus height and 
    //the x of the ball is greater than the x of the rect and less than the width
    else if (ball.y + 12.5 < paddleR.y + paddleR.h && ball.y > paddleR.y && ball.x > paddleR.x && ball.x < paddleR.x + paddleR.h && ball.x > 0 && ball.x < width && ball.y > 0 && ball.y < height) {
      speedY = speedY * -1; //reverse the direction of the motion
      ball.y = ball.y + speedY; //keeps things moving
      print("bam bottom");

function ballBounceLeft() {
    //if the ball hits the left wall
    /* if (ball.x < 0) {
       speedX = speedX * -1; //This reverses the direction, I think
       ball.x = ball.x + speedX; //This keeps the ball moving

    //if the ball hits the front of the left paddle
    if (ball.x - 12.5 < paddleL.x + paddleL.w && ball.y + 12.5 > paddleL.y && ball.y + 12.5 < paddleL.y + paddleL.h && ball.x > 0 && ball.x < width && ball.y > 0 && ball.y < height) {
      speedX = speedX * -1; //This reverses the direction, I think
      ball.x = ball.x + speedX; //This keeps the ball moving

Red_Swirl – ICM Animation

See the real thing here: itp.jscottdutcher.com/red_swirl

The documentation for this project isn’t as good as the last one at all. I got so into making the thing that I forgot to stop and document my steps. Oops!

This started out as an in class example, but I really liked it. I wanted to try and make it so the circle got bigger and smaller, and changed color as you drew with it. Getting the circle to get bigger and bigger or redder and redder wasn’t hard, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to come back down again.

I expressed my frustration to a friend, who pointed out that my project had no sense of time (ie ‘getting bigger time’ or ‘getting smaller time’) and I could add that with simple Boolean logic. I banged my head against trying to make that work for a while and eventually got it.

One of the difficult things I couldn’t get, and still kind of don’t, is that if I had my functions inside the draw function they wouldn’t work. But if I moved them outside, it would. What’s up with that? No idea and I don’t have a record of how my code was setup before I got it working. Oh well.

Looking at what I ended up with, it occurs to me that I probably don’t need more_red() and bigger(). I can probably do the same thing with one function, more() perhaps, and simply pass in fill_red or brushWidth. I fiddled with that a bit, but couldn’t get it to work before class.

var brushWidth = 500;
var fill_red = 0;
var isGettingRedder = true;
var isGettingBigger = true;

function setup() {
createCanvas(2000, 1000);
background (0, 255, 255);

function more_red() {
fill_red = fill_red+1;

function less_red(){
fill_red = fill_red-1;

function bigger(){
brushWidth = brushWidth+1;

function smaller(){
brushWidth = brushWidth-1;

function mousePressed(){
background (0, 255, 255);

function draw() {
fill(fill_red, 0, 0);
ellipse(mouseX, mouseY, brushWidth, brushWidth);

if (fill_red == 255){
isGettingRedder = false;

if (fill_red === 0){
isGettingRedder = true;

if (brushWidth == 500){
isGettingBigger = false;

if (brushWidth === 0){
isGettingBigger = true;

if (isGettingRedder === true){

if (isGettingRedder === false){

if (isGettingBigger === true){

if (isGettingBigger === false){


ICM First Project – Bear Face

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 3.49.07 PM

I decided to try and draw a low-poly style polar bear face for this project. The live page is here: http://itp.jscottdutcher.com/bear_face/


Preliminary sketches.

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 8.54.13 PM

I started this drawing on a 640 X 300 point canvas, a size that seemed like a good idea at the time. Every shape was plotted relative to the top of the long ‘snout’ triangle, point (320, 70). Plotting was relatively easy, since the drawing is symmetrical. I used a bright read background while I was working so I could see where shapes weren’t lining up correctly.

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 6.06.27 PM


As I drew out the face it became clear that 640 X 300 was not the right canvas shape for this bear, so I upped it to 640 X 600.

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 8.54.33 PM


Then I added 200 points to all y-values to move the drawing down the page.

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 10.09.59 PM

Outlines of all the shapes.

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 11.01.10 PM

I picked the colors in Sketch, that way I could choose the colors using a color palette instead of messing with RGB values in the code.

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 11.07.53 PM

I put most of the colors in on a shape by shape basis. Grouping shapes by color and ‘colorizing’ the group would have been a way better way to go, but I did not think that far ahead this time. 

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 11.41.24 PMLastly I removed the stroke from the shapes and made minor adjustments to how the shapes lined up.