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Histomap Help?
August 1, 2008 3:45 PM   Subscribe

How do I make a histomap?

So we have a bunch of data (thanks in part to teleri025!) about the history of Cognitive Science, and my boss has asked me to make a histomap of it. I managed to make a (very rough) version in photoshop, but it looks a bit... organic. You know, as if it were done freehand in photoshop.

I'd like to produce something like this. This is a one-time deal, so I'd rather not shell out for any terribly expensive software. Can an inexperienced user pull this off in Matlab or something?

The end result would be a pretty picture, with a timeline running down the side, and a (fairly arbitrary) measure of "importance to the field" going left to right. As the years pass, certain disciplines that were new or rarely used in CogSci widen and become bigger players: Statistical Learning, for example, begins as a little trickle and then widens out into a more mainstream area...

Any ideas?
posted by Squid Voltaire to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is a one-time deal, so I'd rather not shell out for any terribly expensive software. Can an inexperienced user pull this off in Matlab or something?

Matlab is pretty expensive. You could do this easily in Powerpoint, OmniGraffle or even R.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:54 PM on August 1, 2008


You can easily do this in R (free) and Adobe Illustrator (free 30 day trial).

I don't know what your data look like but you need the following columns: time, importance and event (or whatever it is your looking at). Plot event on importance (x) by time (y) scale.

Once you have a plot, export from R as a postscript file. Open the ps file in Illustrator and edit to your hearts content (fills, add legends in any font/size without a long command line) etc.
posted by special-k at 4:09 PM on August 1, 2008


sorry, importance has to be split into two columns (lower end and upper end).
posted by special-k at 4:11 PM on August 1, 2008


scratch my last comment. Just one column for importance would do. You just need an importance value for each field for each time.
Then, you decide how you would like to order them. Let's say you have:
stat learning, field 2, field 3 etc.
For stat learning, the lower limit will be 0 and the upper will be it's importance.
For field 2, the lower limit will be the importance of stat learning and the upper limit will be importance of stat learning + importance of field 2 (so it's shifted to the right).
Do this for each field.

This should get you a nice figure that you can post process in Illustrator.
posted by special-k at 4:18 PM on August 1, 2008


I'm not sure about the mechanics of histograms, but you could use Google Charts API to display it. Here's Plutor using it on the MeFi data dump.
posted by philomathoholic at 11:01 AM on August 2, 2008


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