Glow map

Posted to Design  |  Tags: , ,  |  Nathan Yau

John Nelson has a knack for making maps that glow, where the base map serves as a dark backdrop and the data of interest sort of lights up. In a recent talk, he calls it Firefly Cartography and explains its use in presentation and in education.

A firefly map is to regular thematic maps the way that a lightsaber is to swords. Thematic layers that look like they are etched with white hot plasma tend to draw eyeballs and provide a sense of intensity that solid Boolean symbology just doesn’t offer. I think we are wired to notice and note things that glow. Whether it is marking time by the sun or moon, staring into embers, watching for nighttime travelers by the open flame they carry, or noting the churned phosphorescence of the sea, we historically have done well to note the things that glow.

I suspect firefly charts would be equally expressive.

Favorites

Top Brewery Road Trip, Routed Algorithmically

There are a lot of great craft breweries in the United States, but there is only so much time. This is the computed best way to get to the top rated breweries and how to maximize the beer tasting experience. Every journey begins with a single sip.

The Most Unisex Names in US History

Moving on from the most trendy names in US history, let’s look at the most unisex ones. Some names have …

Watching the growth of Walmart – now with 100% more Sam’s Club

The ever so popular Walmart growth map gets an update, and yes, it still looks like a wildfire. Sam’s Club follows soon after, although not nearly as vigorously.

The Best Data Visualization Projects of 2011

I almost didn’t make a best-of list this year, but as I clicked through the year’s post, it was hard …