Most people don't know what actually goes into a good infographic. There's a lot more to it than just the design. There's research, analysis, and fact-checking that you have to do long before you open Illustrator. Sarah Slobin, from the Wall Street Journal, explains how to create successful infographics. Have an idea, get the data, choose your tools, edit wisely, and above all else, pay close attention to detail.
I don't dream in numbers, but if I did, I'm pretty sure it'd look a lot like this. In Nature by Numbers, a short movie by Cristobal Vila, inspired by, well, numbers and nature, Vila animates the natural existence of Fibonacci sequences, the golden ratio, and Delaunay triangulation. Watch it. Even if you don't know what those three things are, the video will rock your socks off.
Nutrition facts labels are uniform across products, but let's imagine for a second that you could do whatever you want, just as long they showed certain bits of information. FFunction takes a stab at redesigning the standard milk carton under this premise. No cows, no fields of green, and no dairies. Just nutritional facts and full transparency on what's going into your body.
This wouldn't work with a mass market, but hey, they've got my purchase. After all, data does a body good.
There's been a lot of hullabaloo about Facebook's newly installed privacy policies. It started out very closed, to just university students, and has expanded its reach, especially over the past year, to the more public Web. Matt McKeon, of the Visual Communication Lab, explores Facebook's privacy policies, from 2005 to present.
Rings represent the audience, starting with you in the middle all the way out to the entire Internet. Slices represent bits and interactions you have on Facebook. Click on the image to see how the policies changed over the years for each bit.
[via Ben Fry]
The algorithms are the same as that in the original, but of course the natural benefit is that people don't need Java to run it their browsers. Jason has also added a few features including dynamic sizing, more straightforward settings, and some interaction with zoom and hover control. Really nice work.
Grab the code, plus examples on GitHub.
Big information graphics have been around for a long time. They've come in the form of maps, visualization, art, signs, etc. That was all on paper though. In the past couple of years, humongous, gigantic, and often really long infographics have found their way onto the computer screen, through blogs and news sites. Some are great. Some really suck. The volume is booming for both.
Let's take a look at when this all got started, where the trend is headed, and how much we should really read into these things.
As always, it was an interesting month for FlowingData. Thanks again, everyone for showing your support through retweets, likes, and stumbles.
In case you missed them or are new to FD, here are the top posts from the last month, based on a combination of views and comments. The Walmart map came back to life recently with new data and a feature on CNNMoney.
- Watching the growth of Walmart - now with 100% more Sam's Club
- Data Underload #18 - Sleep Schedule
- Explorations of real-world traffic
- Air traffic rebooted in northern Europe
- Trustworthiness of beards
- Data Underload #17: Famous Movie Quotes, p. 2
- A flowchart to decide what typeface to use
- 100 Pixar characters drawn to scale
- Data Underload #19: First Date vs. Reality TV First Date
- Streamgraph code is available and open source
From the Forums
There's some good stuff in the forums too.
- Example of bad Illustrations - Sometimes graphics make things more confusing.
- Multi-series scatter plots - Looking for a way to make these.
- Creating visualizations - What tools should you use?
- Data Scientists and Engineers for Online Game Data Startup - Looking for a job?
Have a question or something cool to share? Post it in the forums.
There are a lot of job opportunities out there for visualization people. This is one of the more awesome ones:
We are looking for a PhD-level researcher who is excited by data, visualization, and communication. A job candidate should have a history of designing and building innovative visualizations. An emphasis on large-scale user participation (e.g. collaboration, crowdsourcing, social communication) and on evaluation of hypotheses about user behavior is a plus. A successful candidate will have published in one or more areas of information visualization, computer-supported cooperative work, and human-computer interaction.
No more Martin and Fernanda, but still good I am sure.
Along the same lines of Dolores Labs' color experiment, Randall Munroe of xkcd reveals the results of his color survey. He took a slightly different approach though. Here are some of the basic findings:
If you ask people to name colors long enough, they go totally crazy.
“Puke” and “vomit” are totally real colors.
Colorblind people are more likely than non-colorblind people to type “fuck this” (or some variant) and quit in frustration.
Indigo was totally just added to the rainbow so it would have 7 colors and make that “ROY G. BIV” acronym work, just like you always suspected. It should really be ROY GBP, with maybe a C or T thrown in there between G and B depending on how the spectrum was converted to RGB.
A couple dozen people embedded SQL ‘drop table’ statements in the color names. Nice try, kids.
Nobody can spell “fuchsia”.
Of course, if you compare number of pallet fires to number of residential fires, the above almost seems like nothing. There were 20 major pallet fires between 2008 and 2010. There were 403,000 residential structure fires, causing an estimated $8.6 billion in damage - in 2008 alone.
While I'm sure the pallet fires caused plenty of problems, it's always good to put things in perspective.
Update: As Douglas points out, the site reeks of plastic pallet propaganda. Another case of forcing an issue by exaggerating the numbers. Tsk.
Humans make errors. We make errors of fact and errors of judgment. We have blind spots in our field of vision and gaps in our stream of attention. Sometimes we can’t even answer the simplest questions. Where was I last week at this time? How long have I had this pain in my knee? How much money do I typically spend in a day? These weaknesses put us at a disadvantage. We make decisions with partial information. We are forced to steer by guesswork. We go with our gut.
That is, some of us do. Others use data.
It all sounds great at first. But the story ends, as these types of stories almost always do, with a guy in a Google shirt walking around with one too many gadgets:
Bo Adler, a young computer scientist at Fujitsu Laboratories of America, is one of the most committed self-trackers I’ve ever met: during his most active phase he wore a blood-pressure cuff, pulse oximeter and accelerometer all day long, along with a computer on a harness to collect the data. Adler has sleep apnea, and he is trying to figure it out. When he became too self-conscious going to the gym in his gear, he wore a Google T-shirt to throw people off. Maybe he was a freak, but at least people could mistake him for a millionaire freak.
We data folk stick to our guns though:
“My girlfriend thinks I’m the weird person when I wear all these devices,” Bo Adler says. “She sees me as an oddity, but I say no, soon everybody is going to be doing this, and you won’t even notice.”
So proud. You tell 'em, Bo Adler. You tell 'em.
On June 25, 2007 I published the first FlowingData post. Today, here is the one thousandth. I asked what I should do for this special occasion and pretty much everyone…
Death and Taxes: 2011 poster - Jess' annual look at government spending has hit the shelves. Use the code 'flowingdata' at checkout for buy one, get one free.
China's investments in foreign companies - An animated map of investments from 2005 to 2009. Kind of rough around the edges, but Interesting.
Some colors represent different things in different parts of the world, while others are universal. For example, in movies, villains are almost always portrayed in black and passion is going to bring out the red. But what about death? American culture usually calls for black. Hindu calls for white. David McCandless and Always With Honor explore these differences.
In much of the same spirit of the recent Cartographies of Time, the BBC is running a series on The Beauty of Maps. They've got two branches. The first is historical, which is an exploration of some of the world's oldest existing maps. As a complement, the second is a study of digital worlds, or maps of virtual spaces.