Data Is Plural

... is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

2019.07.03 edition

Wiretaps, Venmo transactions, territorial disputes, mangroves, and pizzas.

Wiretaps. The Administrative Office of the United States Courts posts its annual “wiretap reports”, which provide details on the wiretaps that state and federal judges have authorized. Last week, the agency published its 2018 report; the supplementary data includes each wiretap’s jurisdiction, authorizing judge, date of authorization, type of intercept, number of communications intercepted, total cost, and more. [h/t Chris Zubak-Skees + Steven Rich]

Venmo transactions. Dan Salmon, a grad student who specializes in information security, has published data on more than 7 million Venmo transactions, which he downloaded from the mobile payment platform’s public API. “I am releasing this dataset,” he writes, “in order to bring attention to Venmo users that all of this data is publicly available for anyone to grab without even an API key.” Practical: How to make your Venmo transactions private. Related: Salmon explains more, in Wired. Also: In 2018, Hang Do Thi Duc analyzed 200 million public Venmo transactions to show how revealing they could be. [h/t Álex Barredo]

Territorial disputes. The Issue Correlates of War project, which started in 1997 with a focus on territorial disputes, gathers “systematic data on contentious issues in world politics.” In addition to its two centuries of territorial claims, the project has also catalogued disputes over rivers, maritime zones, and ethnic groups, and compiled supplementary datasets on colonial history, historical country names, and more.

Mangroves. Global Mangrove Watch uses satellite data to track the global extent of those coastal intertidal forests; the project’s seven snapshots span 1996 to 2016. Note: To download the data, you’ll need to provide a few details and agree to certain terms and conditions. [h/t Dan Friess]

Annotated pizzas. “In this paper, we aim to teach a machine how to make a pizza,” writes a team of computer scientists from MIT and the Qatar Computing Research Institute. One of the key ingredients: 9,213 photos of pizza, with their lists of toppings annotated by Amazon Mechanical Turk workers. [h/t Kristin Houser + Center for Data Innovation]