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Preview: information aesthetics

information aesthetics

form follows data - data visualization & visual communication

Last Build Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 09:11:22 +0100

Copyright: Copyright 2017

Visualizing Publicly Available US Government Data Online

Fri, 19 Sep 2014 09:11:22 +0100

Brightpoint Consulting recently released a small collection of interactive visualizations based on open, publicly available data from the US government. Characterized by a rather organic graphic design style and color palette, each visualization makes a socially and politically relevant dataset easily accessible.

The custom chore diagram titled Political Influence [] highlights the monetary contributions made by the top Political Action Committees (PAC) for the 2012 congressional election cycle, for the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The hierarchical browser 2013 Federal Budget [] reveals the major flows of spending in the US government, at the federal, state, and local level, such as the relationship of spending between education and defense.

The circular flow chart United States Trade Deficit [] shows the US Trade Deficit over the last 11 years by month. The United States sells goods to the countries at a the top, while vice versa, the countries at the bottom sell goods to the US. The dollar amount in the middle represents the cumulative deficit over this period of time.


The Disappearing Planet: Comparing the Extinction Rates of Animals

Thu, 18 Sep 2014 21:05:05 +0100

The subtly designed A Disappearing Planet [] by freelance data journalist Anna Flagg reveals the extinction rates of animals, caused by a variety of human-caused effects, including climate change, habitat destruction and species displacement.

Divided into mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, the interactive bar graph allows users to browse horizontally through the vast amount of species by order and family, and vertically by genus.

Species in risk are highlighted in red, so that dense clusters denote related families (e.g. bears, parrots, turtles) that are specially threatened over the next 100 years.

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GitHut: the Universe of Programming Languages across GitHub

Fri, 12 Sep 2014 16:37:33 +0100

GitHut [], developed by Microsoft data visualization designer Carlo Zapponi, is an interactive small multiples visualization revealing the complexity of the wide range of programming languages used across the repositories hosted on GitHub.

GitHub is a web-based repository service which offers the distributed revision control and source code management (SCM) functionality of Git, enjoying more than 3 million users which is similar to the use of gambling apps as explained here

Accordingly, by representing the distribution and frequency of programming languages, one can observe the continuous quest for better ways to solve problems, to facilitate collaboration between people and to reuse the effort of others.

Programming languages are ranked by various parameters, ranging from the number of active repositories to new pushes, forks or issues. The data can be filtered over discrete moments in time, while evolutions can be explored by a collection of timelines.


Pi Visualized as a Public Urban Art Mural

Wed, 10 Sep 2014 21:23:30 +0100

Visualize Pi [] is a mural project that aimed to use popular mathematics to connect Brooklyn students to the community with a visualization of Pi. It was funded by a successful KickStarter project as proposed by visual artist artist Ellie Balk, The Green School Students, staff and Assistant Principal Nathan Affield.

The mural seems to consist of different parts. A reflective line graph, reminiscent of a sound wave, represents the number Pi (3.14159...) by way of colors that are coded by the sequence of the prime numbers found in Pi (2,3,5,7), as well as height.

Additionally, a golden spiral was drawn based on the Fibonacci Sequence, as an exploration of the relationship between the golden ratio and Pi. The number Pi was represented in a color-coded graph within the golden spiral. In this, the numbers are seen as color blocks that vary in size proportionately within the shrinking space of the spiral, representing the 'shape' of Pi.

"By focusing on the single, transcendental concept of Pi across courses, the mathematics department plans to not only deepen student understanding of shape and irrational number, but more importantly, connect these foundational mental schema for students while dealing with the concrete issues of neighborhood beautification and how proportion can inform aesthetic which can in turn improve quality of life."

A few more similar urban / public visualization projects can be found at Balk's project page, e.g. showing weather patterns, emotion histograms or sound waves.

Via @mariuswatz .

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The Key Players in the Middle East and their Relationships

Wed, 10 Sep 2014 20:48:38 +0100

Whom Likes Whom in the Middle-East? [] by David McCandless and UniversLab is a forced-network visualisation of key players & notable relationships in the Middle East.

Next to its expressive aesthetic, the interactive features allow users to highlight individual nodes and its direct connections to others, as well as filter between the kind of possible relationships, such as "hate", "strained", "good" or "love".

Reminds me a bit of Mapping the Relationships between the Artists who Invented Abstraction.


Visits: Mapping the Places you Have Visited

Thu, 04 Sep 2014 14:02:35 +0100

Visits [] automatically visualizes personal location histories, trips and travels by aggregating geotagged one's Flickr collection with a Google Maps history. developed by Alice Thudt, Dominkus Baur and prof. Sheelagh Carpendale, the map runs locally in the browser, so no sensitive data is uploaded to external servers.

The timeline visualization goes beyond the classical pin representation, which tend to overlap and are relatively hard to read. Instead, the data is shown as 'map-timelines', a combination of maps with a timeline that convey location histories as sequences of maps: the bigger the map, the longer the stay. This way, the temporal sequence is clear, as the trip starts with the map on the left and continues towards the right.

A place slider allows the adjusting of the map granularity, reaching from street-level to country-level.

Read the academic research here [PDF], or watch a explanatory video below.


Culturegraphy: the Cultural Influences and References between Movies

Mon, 01 Sep 2014 19:52:47 +0100

Culturegraphy [], developed by "Information Model Maker" Kim Albrecht reveals represent complex relationships of over 100 years of movie references.

Movies are shown as unique nodes, while their influences are depicted as directed edges. The color gradients from blue to red that originate in the1980s denote the era of postmodern cinema, the era in which movies tend to adapt and combine references from other movies.

Although the visualizations look rather minimalistic at first sight, their interactive features are quite sophisticated and the resulting insights are naturally interesting. Therefore, do not miss out the explanatory movie below.

Via @albertocairo .


A World of Terror: the Impact of Terror in the World

Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:11:51 +0100

A World of Terror [] by Periscopic shows the reach, frequency and impact of about 25 terrorism groups around the world.

The visualization exists of 25 smartly organized pixel plots that are displayed as ordered small multiples. Ranging from Al-Qa'ida and the Taliban to less known organizations like Boko Haram, the plots reveal which ones are more deadly, are more recently active, or have been historically more active. In addition, all data can be filtered over time.

The data is based on the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), the most comprehensive and open-source collection of terrorism data available.


Metrico: a Puzzle Action Game based on Infographics

Wed, 27 Aug 2014 11:57:48 +0100

Metrico [], designed by Dutch game design studio Digital Dreams, is a recently released video game for the Playstation Vita.

Described as an "atmospheric puzzle action game with a mindset of its own", it's visual style has been completely based on the world of infographics. In essence, the concept of infographics seem to work as a gameplay environment not just because of its pretty aesthetics, but also because of its natural interaction with (visual) data.

Consequently, in Metrico, each action is quantified and explicitly shown, such as the number of times an avatar needs to jump up and down or shoots a projectile. Metrico's goal is thus similar to most infographics: enticing users to make sense of a complex system.

Via Wired. Watch the gameplay trailer below.


The Many Factors Influencing Breast Cancer Incidence

Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:47:41 +0100

A Model of Breast Cancer Causation [], designed by 'do good with data' visualization studio Periscopic illustrates many of the factors that can lead to breast cancer and how they may interact with others.

The interactive circos graph is meant to demonstrate the complexity of breast cancer causation, in terms of educating the general public as well as possibly stimulating new scientific research in this direction. Users can explore the different influencing factors by domain, predicted correlation strength as well as the quality of the data evidence behind.

See also:
- Health InfoScape: Illustrating the Relationships between Disease Conditions
- Visualizing the Major Health Issues Facing Americans Today


How we Sleep (and How we Awake after an Earthquake)

Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:31:45 +0100

Since we already know in what angle people put their face when taking a selfie in different cities, we now also know how they sleep differently: Which Cities Get the Most Sleep? [] by interactive graphics editor Stuart A. Thompson of the Wall Street Journal compares the sleeping habits of citizens of different cities.

On the topic of sleep, Jawbone also just released an interesting graph revealing how the recent Napa earthquake affected the sleep of local residents []. Indeed, the distance to the epicenter seems to correlate to the number of people who awoke, and the time it took for them to get back to sleep.

As the visualizations are based on a vast dataset released by Jawbone, the makers of a digitized wristband that tracks motion and sleep behavior, the data is not necessarily representative for the whole general population.


The Feltron Annual Report of 2013 on Communication

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:29:03 +0100

Each year, Nicholas Felton releases an personal year report, and the one of 2013 [] was just released. These reports always stand out because of the immense sense of data-centric detail, and an always original infographic style.

This year, the report focuses on communication data, as it aspires to uncover patterns and insights within a large collection of tracked conversations, SMS, telephone calls, email, Facebook messages and even physical mail.

See also the annual reports of:
- 2012
- 2010 and 2011
- 2010 (about his father's life)
- 2009
- 2008
- 2007
- 2006
- 2005


US Domestic Migration Charted as Ordered Stacked Area Graphs

Mon, 18 Aug 2014 21:06:55 +0100

The interactive infographic Where We Came From, State by State [] by Gregor Aisch, Robert Gebeloff and Kevin Quely reveals how US citizens have moved between different US states since the year 1900.

The migration data is based on Census data, which was used to compare the state of residence versus the state of birth of a representative sample of Census forms. The visualization technique resembles that of organically shaped, stacked area graphs, also coined as stream graphs or ThemeRiver.

See also:
- Ebb and Flow of Movies
- lastgraph
- 2008 Movie Box Revenue
- What People in Tokyo are Doing on a Tuesday
- Memetracker: Tracking News Phrases over the Web
- DailyRadar TrendMap: Interactive Stacked Line Graph of Popular Trends
- Twitter Activity during the 2012 European Football Tournament


oneSecond: Printing Every Tweet Created During a Single Second

Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:36:21 +0100

#oneSecond [] by graphic design student Philipp Adrian aggregates all the tweets sent at exactly 14:47:36 GMT of 9 November 2012.

The 5522 Twitter messages are categorized and ordered in 4 different books. Every user is part of each book but dependent on the categorization her position within the book changes.

Accordingly, the book "My Message is..." contains the content of each message, ordered by its language. The size and order of the tweet is derived from the number of followers (recipients).

The book "My Color is..." shows each user's Twitter account color, ordered by the timezone the tweet was send in.

The book "My Description is..." shows how each user describes himself on his profile, of which the size and order is derived from the Klout score.

Finally, the book "My Name is..." lists the avatar that each user chose to represent him or herself, ordered by the number of tweets the user sent.


Charting Culture: 2000 Years of Cultural History in 5 Minutes

Tue, 12 Aug 2014 19:59:50 +0100

Charting Culture [] shows the geographical movements of over 120,000 individuals who were notable enough in their life-times that the dates and locations of their births and deaths were recorded.

The animation commences around 600 bc and ends in 2012, and tracks the life of people like Leonardo da Vinci or Jett Travolta -- son of the actor John Travolta. It presents each person's birth place as a blue dot and their death as a red dot. Developed by Mauro Martino, research manager of the Cognitive Visualization Lab in IBM's Watson Group, the animated map is based on data retrieved from the Google-owned knowledge base, Freebase, a community-curated database of well-known people, places, and things.

More scientific information can be found in the Science paper "A network framework of cultural history", which was spearheaded by Maximilian Schich and his team.

Watch the movie below.