The GDELT Project is "an initiative to construct a catalog of human societal-scale behavior and beliefs across all countries of the world, connecting every person, organization, location, count, theme, news source, and event across the planet into a single massive network that captures what's happening around the world, what its context is and who's involved, and how the world is feeling about it, every single day." Essentially the GDELT Project monitors the world's news media each day and uses sophisticated computer algorithms to compile from it a daily catalog of over 300 categories of events from attacks and protests to peace appeals and diplomatic exchanges.
There are two inaugural GDELT visualizations for the Science on a Sphere that offer snapshot of human society as seen through the eyes of the world's news media, pinpointing every protest and incidence of violence against a civilian worldwide each day monitored by GDELT. This dataset offers a near real-time view, covering the last year up through yesterday. The second GDELT dataset is a historical view of events from January 1, 1979 through May 2014. Locations of protests are colored in pink/purple, while incidents of violence against civilians are colored in red. The size of the dot at each location represents the volume of news coverage reporting on events taking place at that location on that day (a larger red dot means more news coverage of one or more violent attacks on that day in that location). Sizing by news volume means the events deemed the "most important" by the world's news media each day appear as the largest dots on the map, making it easy to spot the biggest stories each day.
See the sample visualization on YouTube, which shows an example through April 25, 2014 - the SOS animation updates through present day.
The GDELT Dashboard provides a real-time view with links to the news articles for each event.
Look closely at the animation and you can see waves of protests turn into violence, watch as unrest spreads as a flood across a region or extinguishes as quickly as it happened. You can observe major turning points in world history alongside isolated events that received little attention outside the rural village where they happened. With the daily updates, tie current events into their local, regional, and global context and observe as they unfold through a "planet's eye view" of global human society.
You can find more information on the GDELT Project by visiting the website.
The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Google in providing the computing resources to create this visualization.