Get in on the Action!!

CaptainDash recently rocketed onto two new social media websites: Foursquare and Pinterest. We’ve added these sites to our online community because we know that different social networks offer different experiences and we are committed to reaching out to as many people as possible. As you probably know, we are already established on Facebook and Twitter, but Foursquare and Pinterest add a new dynamic to the CaptainDash community.

Pinterest was founded by Iowan Ben Silbermann and launched in 2010. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the rapidly-growing phenomenon, it is a pinboard-style social media website that allows individuals to post images they enjoy into various categories. Users “follow” one another to keep up with specific friends and topics of interest, re-pinning, or re-posting, images to build their own collections.

Captain Dash has begun to post images under different categories, including datavisualization, infographics, big data, superheroes, and more. How in the world can that be interesting to look at, let alone follow, you ask? Once you check it out, you’ll see that these topics are more interesting than you might imagine. Not to mention, we’re not just interested in the technical side of things. Click on different infographics boards and learn more about the world around us in just a few seconds – you might be surprised! Politics, maps, food, movies, music – you name it, we’re interested in it, so there’s a little bit of something for everyone. Of course, we’re still just beginner pinners, so suggestions are more than welcome.

Foursquare is a location-based social media site, created in 2009 by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai. If you don’t already know, users of Foursquare can “check-in” at different locations, which allows friends to keep track of each other and learn about new places to visit. Users are awarded different points for different check-ins based off of a variety of different criteria, creating an atmosphere of friendly competition. Additionally, the individual who checks-in at a location most frequently becomes the Mayor of that location. Right now, CaptainDash is the Mayor of CaptainDash Headquarters in Paris, where we’re putting the finishing touches on the application software. We encourage anyone who works there or comes to visit to check in as well.

CaptainDash will be on the move often, travelling across the globe in search of the latest news on datavisualization, big data, and social media marketing to keep you informed. The Captain will be attending many events this summer as well as visiting places where the fathers of datavisualization have lived, worked, and changed the course of history.

We are excited to launch these two websites and work with CaptainDash users in new and dynamic ways. The sites are up and running, but please keep in mind that posting is in its primary phase. However, when you become friends with CaptainDash, we have the opportunity to grow and explore with you. Make sure you become friends with the Captain on Foursquare to see where he zooms off to next and follow “CaptainDash” on Pinterest to give your mind a break, look at pictures and possibly learn something new!

Here is the link for the CaptainDash Foursquare account:

Here is the link for the CaptainDash Pinterest account:

Fathers of datavisualization: William Playfair 1759-1823

William Playfair, a Scottish engineer and political economist, invented the first graphical methods of statistics in the late 18th century. He supplied us with three new types of diagrams: the line graph, the bar chart of economic data, and the pie chart. Thus, he created all the fundamental forms of statistical graphs, excluding the scatterplot. Credited as a genius by many scholars, Playfair experienced a varied career as a millwright, engineer, draftsman, accountant, inventor, silversmith, merchant, investment broker, economist, statistician, pamphleteer, translator, publicist, land speculator, convict, banker, ardent royalist, editor, blackmailer and journalist.

After working five years at the steam engine manufacturing works of Boulton & Watt in Birmingham, England, Playfair left in 1782 to set up a silversmithing business and shop in London. Although the business in London was doomed to fail, Playfair successfully published his Commercial and Political Atlas in 1786, which is considered to be the first major work to contain statistical graphs, including the first appearance of the bar graph.

Playfair moved to Paris in 1787, looking to take advantage of a country working toward industrialization.  His various business ventures in France proved unsuccessful, and he left for London before the Reign of Terror in 1793. In fact, he invented the pie graph in 1801 in London, while carrying on his various ventures in both the U.K. and America. Although Playfair pursued many unsuccessful projects during his lifetime, he forever changed the way we look at data with his statistical insights. Sadly, the world at large did not recognize his true worth for nearly a century after his death in 1823.

Our Thoughts on Microsoft’s Big Announcements

Microsoft made two major announcements this week, revealing the Surface, which is an advanced hybrid of a PC and tablet, and the Windows Phone 8. These new developments, coupled with the new Windows 8 software, allow us to offer a better CaptainDash experience to users.

We have been working closely with the Microsoft developers of Windows 8 over the past 18 months to develop a useful business-oriented application. After much discussion, we have made many changes in order to make the application very user-centric. In other words, you don’t have to be a technology wizard to operate the application because we have shared the core W8 philosophy, which is to make operations simple and intuitive. You can organize large amounts of data to discover cause-and-effect patterns and track internal and external changes in business operations and consumer behavior. It’s all about the final user experience; if you have all the internal and external data at your fingertips that you need to learn about your business and make decisions, we have done our job. Synergy of all your information is the end goal.

The new Surface tablet specifically offers users greater mobility and personalization. This means that you can now set up your office to plug-into your business anytime, anywhere. You don’t want reports months from now explaining what is going on in the present (which quickly becomes the past), so we give you the power to connect and interact in real time. The tablet is a window into your entire network of data, and with it you will become a part of the data revolution.

We are looking forward to offering the CaptainDash experience on the finalized Windows 8 software, including the Surface tablet, which will be available in the near future. Be sure that we will keep you updated on how I plan to use these new gadgets to equip your company with marketing superpowers.

Captain Dash

Fathers of data visualization: Gerardus Mercator 1512-1594

In 1569, the Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator presented his most well-known work, a cylindrical map projection of the world known as the Mercator projection. This map became standard for nautical purposes because it gave navigators the ability to sail across any of the world’s oceans by following approximately straight paths. In fact, although modern atlases no longer use the Mercator projection, it is still commonly used for navigation in areas close to the equator where distortion of the straight lines is minimal.

In spite of Mercator’s fame as a cartographer, his main source of income was due to his craftsmanship of mathematical instruments. Mercator’s own independent map-making began only when he first produced a map of Palestine, followed by a map of the world in 1538. He had a long-term plan to produce individual regional maps that would result in a complete world map. This proved to be a difficult undertaking at the time: maps quickly became outdated thanks to an increase in information provided from explorations of the earth, and information was often contradictory, leaving the task of choosing the correct data to use to cartographers. Nonetheless, Mercator was a dedicated man who created globes, corrected the positions of the stars in Copernicus’s model of the universe, and produced a new map of Europe in 1554. At this time, he was considered the leading European map maker.

In 1578, Mercator published corrected and updated versions of Ptolemy’s maps in as the first part of his atlas, a term which he coined himself. Additions to the atlas in 1585 included a series of maps of France, Germany and the Netherlands. Thanks to his deviations from the previous standards set by Ptolemy, Mercator established himself as one of the most influential geographers. He “…liked, little by little, not only the description of the earth, but also the structure of the whole machinery of the world, whose numerous elements are not known by anyone to date.” Mercator used the information available to him to visualize a more accurate depiction of the world in which he lived, making him a forefather of datavisualization.

Gerardus Mercator’s son, Rumold, continued his father’s work, designing the world map pictured.

The age-old question: Cape or no cape?

« No Capes! » – The Incredibles 2004

Superhero  capes are often associated with the ability to fly, which makes sense because superheroes look more heroic when they have capes rippling dramatically behind them as they dash off to save the world. Of course, not all superheroes have capes, simply because the cape doesn’t suit their abilities. However, the cape has been around for quite a long time. Before Superman and Batman burst onto the scene in the 1930s, Zorro, D’Artagnan of the Three Musketeers and Roman generals all notably rocked capes. Zorro himself falls into the Spanish genre of drama and fiction known as capa y espada, or “cape and sword” or “cloak and dagger” in English. Characters in this genre are secretive adventurers who work outside the law, and their cloaks and masks hide their identities.

If I had a dangerous job working as a vigilante, I might reconsider my cape! Of course, the respectable Captain Dash always follows the letter of the law. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that the superhero cape is a classic; plus, it protects me as I rocket around the universe, collecting data to keep citizens as informed as possible. The information my adventures provide creates knowledge and, as we all know by now, knowledge is power. My cape helps me strike fear into the heart of disorganized data.

Never fear! I am the caped crusader of marketing power here to help you make the right decisions. The cape is just a perk of the job.


**Disclaimer: I may equip you with superpowers, but I recommend leaving the cape at home most of the time. Trust me, a cape caught in a car door or trampled underfoot on a busy sidewalk is a real drag.