• Innovation History via 6,000 Pages of Annual Reports

    March 20, 2012  |  Visualization

    GE Annual Reports

    Fathom Information Design, in collaboration with GE, visualizes GE annual reports from 1892 to 2011. It doesn't sound so interesting at first, but browse the appearance of keywords, and you do get a sense of change.

    We've scanned 6,000 pages of GE's annual reports to build this interactive visualization. But why? What's the point? Not only does this provide a rich history of how GE has always been at work building, moving, powering and curing the world, but it is a true reflection of how the economy, U.S. and the world as a whole has progressed from 1892 until 2011. By diving deep into key terms, users can uncover interesting stories about innovation over the last century.

    Each column represents an annual report, and each little square represents a page. Select a keyword, and pages that use that word are highlighted. Finally, you can actually read each page of the report by clicking on a column. It expands.

    Update: Fathom provides background on what you can glean from the interactive.

  • Towards a Low-carbon World

    March 20, 2012  |  Statistical Visualization

    low-carbon economy

    Carbon output. We want to reduce it, but some countries have a longer way to go than others. Pitch Interactive shows progress (or non-progress) by country in this interactive for the Climate Institute. Three indices are shown along with an overall score, which is a composite of the three, and countries are sorted by the average score from 1995 to 2008. Higher scores are better.

    The interaction makes this graphic. When you switch between indices, the countries are sorted appropriately and the time series for each country are drawn. You can also click on a country to get a closer view, which albeit is only four data points per country and index, but it's still useful.

    The lines for each country get thicker from left to right, which was to provide a sense of progress, but I wonder if it would be worthwhile to use thickness to represent an increase or decrease from the previous year. Then again, that's easy enough to see already, so maybe not.

  • Comparing heritage in the Melting Pot

    March 15, 2012  |  Mapping

    Chinese vs Indian

    At first I thought this map, by David Yanofsky for Bloomberg, was your standard county-level choropleth map of demographics. Select a self-described heritage from the first drop down and you see where all the people are by count. That's only kind of interesting, but you often just end up highlighting big cities.

    However, select a heritage from the second drop down menu to compare against the first and you get a relative scale. The above for example shows those of Chinese and Indian heritage. It's a simple calculation that makes a big difference in usefulness.

  • Who voted for Santorum and Romney

    March 9, 2012  |  Statistical Visualization

    As a complement to Shan Carter's exit poll dancing boxes, The New York Times provides another view with an interactive triangular scatterplot.

    In the dancing boxes, you can see how states are inclined to vote based on exit poll groups. In the scatterplot, on the other hand, the groups within each state are plotted, with an added dimension towards candidates other than Santorum and Romney. The navigation bar on top and clicker on the left let you see tendencies of each state.

    Like the dancing boxes, the transitions make the chart. As you browse by state or by category, you're able to see differences between groups when shapes move across the screen.

    In somewhat related news, The New York Times graphics department is looking for summer interns. Send your interest to Steve Duenes (duenes [at] nytimes [dot] com) and Amanda Cox (coxa [at] nytimes [dot] com). I interned there a few years ago, so I can tell you first-hand that you'll learn a lot — probably more than in any class you've taken — while working with the best in the business.

    [New York Times]

  • Your personal networks visualized as microbiological cells in Biologic

    March 8, 2012  |  Data Art


    Data exists in digital form, on our computers and spreadsheets, but the exciting part about data is what it represents in the real world. Bits are people, places, and things. This is especially true with social data from places like Twitter and Facebook, where ideas flow and people talk to interact with each other in different ways. It's not just retweets and likes. Bloom Studio, the folks who brought you Planetary, embrace this idea in their just released iPad app, Biologic.

    The basic concept: choose a social network from the Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn blobs on the opening screen. You will have to authenticate each one you try (only the first time) and then you will transition into a view of the people you follow represented as microbiological cells.

    Glowing shapes inside the cells are activities (tweets, pictures, etc). The bigger the activity, the newer it is. The more the activity is moving, the more retweets/favorites/likes it has. Once you have read an item it gets darker so you can tell what's new.

    It looks like another great blend of data, generative art, and game dynamics. I don't have an iPad though, so I'll live vicariously through your comments. Grab Biologic (for free) on iTunes.

    [Bloom Studios | Thanks, Tom]

  • Geography of government benefits

    March 7, 2012  |  Mapping

    Geography of Benefits - Medicare

    I missed this one a while back, but The New York Times had a look at the growth of government benefit programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, in the United States. On the surface, it looks like your standard choropleth map that shows percent of income from government benefits, but there's a lot going on here that makes the piece really good.

    First, the arrows on the top right let you browse through decades, going back to 1969. Roll over counties to see a time series for the corresponding region against the national average. The sidebar on the left lets you view breakdowns for different programs. And finally, the guide to key trends provides a narrative for noteworthy regions and patterns.

    Now that's some good data journalism.

    [New York Times | Thanks, Jordan]

  • Growing urban populations

    March 5, 2012  |  Mapping

    Growing urban population

    In this simple interactive animation by Periscopic, in partnership with UNICEF, we see the changes in urban population from 1950 up to present, through projections for 2050. Circle size represents urban population and color is an indicator for the percentage of people living in cities or towns.

    The color choice for the continuous scale is not ideal, but I think they were working within the bounds of the existing print report.

    For the map project, we were working with pre-existing content. They had produced the map for their print report, so we had to make it look as similar as possible to that. I know they didn’t use a Dorling cartogram, but I think their intention was to be similar to one. Certain sacrifices were made in order for it to fit the 2-page spread in the report. Unfortunately, the online version had to keep the same locations.

    [UNICEF | Thanks, Dino]

  • Really old maps online

    February 28, 2012  |  Mapping

    Old maps online

    Maps have been around for a long time, but you might not know it looking online. It can be hard to find them. Old Maps Online, a project by The Great Britain Historical GIS Project and Klokan Technologies GmbH, Switzerland, is a catalog of just that.

    You can browse and search old maps via the map interface by panning and zooming, along with a search bar and a slider for time. Search results then update in the right sidebar, which provides thumbnails and links to the full-size maps.

    If only an overlay like Historypin could be incorporated. That'd be something.

    [Old Maps Online via @jatorre]

  • Slicing Obama’s 2013 budget proposal four ways

    February 15, 2012  |  Statistical Visualization

    budget views

    With Obama's recent budget for next year proposed, Shan Carter et. al of The New York Times let you explore the plan in their new interactive. It provides four distinct views of what the breakdowns look like, all the while keeping a distinct link between each click with smooth transitions and consistent objects (much of which was handled with Mike Bostock's D3).

    Initially, a view of all spending is shown at once. Each bubble represents a chunk of spending, and each is colored by the change from last year. Green shows more money and red means less, and as indicated on the chart, spending is oriented from largest increase to largest cut, top to bottom.

    Next tab: types of spending. This is when the magic happens. Instead of skipping to a new graphic, the existing bubbles divide to show mandatory and discretionary spending. Jump to the next view to see changes to discretionary spending, and finally see spending shown by department.

    The transitions make this graphic. It's often useful to see data from different angles, and the smooth transitions (rather than abrupt jumps) let you see how things are and how they have changed, effectively. This is fine work.

    [New York Times]

  • Interactive and animated word cloud

    February 14, 2012  |  Visualization

    Word cloud intearctive

    For those who die a little inside every time they see a word cloud: shield your eyes. For the less dramatic, Jason Davies, in his latest D3 bucket-o-fun, created an interactive word cloud that lets you search on Twitter, Wikipedia, or your own URL. Change one of the parameters such as angle, number of words, and scale, and oh yes, the words move. Once you're satisfied with your creation, you can export it as a PNG or SVG.

    Don't worry. Davies does recognize the non-analytical nature of word clouds at the end of his explanation.

    The code is also available on GitHub in case you want to have a go with it.

    [Word Cloud | Thanks, Jason]

  • Weave for visualization development

    February 7, 2012  |  Software

    Visualization with weave

    Web-based Analysis and Visualization Environment, or Weave for short, is open source software intended for flexible visualization.

    Weave (BETA 1.0) is a new web-based visualization platform designed to enable visualization of any available data by anyone for any purpose. Weave is an application development platform supporting multiple levels of user proficiency — novice to advanced — as well as the ability to integrate, disseminate and visualize data at "nested" levels of geography.

    It looks like everything is done through a click interface, and you can piece together modules and link them, etc. There is some setup involved, but there are a number of video tutorials and documents to get everything installed.

    Source code also available on GitHub.


  • Compare presidential candidate fundraising

    February 2, 2012  |  Statistical Visualization

    Money race with candidates

    Presidential candidates have raised $186 million up to now, according to the Federal Election Commission. The New York Times lets you compare the amounts raised by each candidate, over time and space. Simply select a candidate on the left, and another on the right to see how they match up. Fundraising by candidates from previous elections, at the same time of year, are also included for context.

    While not the focus of the interactive, the distributions for donation size at the bottom seem to be especially telling.

    [New York Times via infosthetics]

  • Mapping the drug wars in Mexico

    February 1, 2012  |  Mapping

    Drug War Map

    Diego Valle-Jones maps homicides and trafficking routes in Mexico.

    To unclutter the map and following the lead of the paper Trafficking Networks and the Mexican Drug War by Melissa Dell, I decided to only show the optimal highways (according to my own data and Google Directions) to reach the US border ports from the municipalities with the highest drug plant eradication between 1994 and 2003 and the highest 2d density estimate of drug labs based on newspaper reports of seizures. The map is a work in progress and is still missing the cocaine routes, but hopefully I'll be able to add them shortly.

    There's lots to look at and interact with here. To start, there are bubbles that cluster homicides by region and major highway routes in black.

    Click on any bubble and you get a time series for the corresponding area, going back to 2004. Or if you like, draw your own polygon to see the time series for specific regions. Pointers on the time series highlight significant events. There's also a slider that lets you see numbers on the map for different years. A layer underneath the bubbles lets you see high density areas for marijuana, opium, and drug labs.

    Take a look at the full map for yourself. This is nice work by Valle-Jones.

    [Diego Valle-Jones | Thanks, Diego]

  • In perspective: One hour of video uploaded to YouTube per second

    January 24, 2012  |  Infographics

    Babies per second

    YouTube surpassed the one hour of video uploaded per second threshold recently. To put that rate into perspective, they launched a fun illustration-based site, One Hour Per Second. Big team effort headed by Punk & Butler, illustrations by Alex Eben Meyer, animation by Justin Young, and development by Use All Five.
    Continue Reading

  • SOPA opposition surges

    January 20, 2012  |  Infographics


    ProPublica has been tracking members of Congress who oppose and support SOPA. You can view by party and chamber, and you can even sort by campaign contributions from movie, music, and television. Above shows the quick change from January 18 to 19.


  • Area charts

    Build Interactive Area Charts with Filters

    When you have several time series over many categories, it can be useful to show them separately rather than put it all in one graph. This is one way to do it interactively with categorical filters.
  • Bach Cello Suites visualized

    December 8, 2011  |  Data Art

    As a resident at Eyebeam, Alexander Chen visualizes the first Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suites:

    Using the mathematics behind string length and pitch, it came from a simple idea: what if all the notes were drawn as strings? Instead of a stream of classical notation on a page, this interactive project highlights the music’s underlying structure and subtle shifts.

    Interaction version here. Charming.

    [Alexander Chen via @blprnt]

  • Rise and fall of riot rumors on Twitter

    December 7, 2011  |  Network Visualization


    During the riots in London this past summer, a lot of information spread quickly about what was going on. Some of that information was true and some was not so true. The Guardian explores this spread of information on Twitter, and how fact and fiction seem to reveal themselves on their own:

    A period of unrest can provoke many untruths, an analysis of 2.6 million tweets suggests. But Twitter is adept at correcting misinformation - particularly if the claim is that a tiger is on the loose in Primrose Hill.

    Other rumors include when rioters cooked their own food at McDonald's (false), London Eye was set on fire (false), and Miss Selfridge was set on fire (true).

    Each bubble represents a tweet and is sized by number of followers the tweeter has. The big one is usually the orignal tweet and the small ones that cluster around are retweets. Then the colors represent tweets that support, oppose, question, or comment. So when you play the animation for each rumor, bubbles swiftly pop up at the rumor peaks and then settle at true or false.

    You can also use the scroll to move to a certain point in time, and roll over bubbles to see the tweets.

    Really nice graphic and worth a look.

    [Guardian via @jakeporway]

  • US road fatalities mapped, 9 years

    November 29, 2011  |  Mapping

    Road fatalities

    For The Guardian, ITO World maps about 370,000 road-related deaths from 2001 through 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. The map is kind of rough around the edges, but it gets the job done. Easily zoom in to the location of choice either by clicking buttons, or type in the area you want in the search box. Zoom in all the way, and you'll notice each accident is represented by an icon indicating type of accident, the age of the person who died, and year of crash.

    As you might expect, accidents are more concentrated at city centers and on highways. What I didn't expect was all the pedestrians involved.

    [Guardian and ITO World]

  • What topics science lovers link to the most

    November 23, 2011  |  Network Visualization

    What science lovers link to

    Hilary Mason, chief scientist at bitly, examined links to 600 science pages and the pages that those people visited next:

    The results revealed which subjects were strongly and weakly associated. Chemistry was linked to almost no other science. Biology was linked to almost all of them. Health was tied more to business than to food. But why did fashion connect strongly to physics? And why was astronomy linked to genetics?

    The interactive lets you poke around the data, looking at connections sorted from weakest (fewer links) to strongest (more links), and nodes are organized such that topics with more links between each other are closer together.

    Natural next step: let me click on the nodes.

    [Scientific American via @hmason]

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