CuriouSnakes: Visualization of AOL Questions

Filed under: DataInsight,Hackathon — Lisa @ 10:26 pm June 27, 2011

We are all curious creatures, and we express our curiosities in various different ways. Some people expressed their curiosity through search: about 0.5% of AOL search queries released in 2006 begin with question words. My friends Fravic, David and I explored these searches in the DataInsightSF hackathon, and created an interactive visualization that we call CuriouSnakes.

Each bubble represents a question asked to AOL. The size of the bubble corresponds to the length of the query string, and the colour corresponds to the word that the question starts with. When a user asks multiple questions in sequence, the bubbles appear in a snake-like formation. The “snake” moves in a sinusoidal wave. Its speed depends on how quickly the user asked consecutive questions, and its wavelength and amplitude depends on other user features. Mouse over on the bubbles, and you will see the actual question asked.

The questions asked are sometimes funny, sometimes intriguing and sometimes disturbing. I guess other DataInsight participants who voted us for the People’s Choice award found it entertaining as well. (Thank you!)