Information Aesthetics

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Bouncing Graphic Replays Human Heartbeat Dynamics of Yesterday

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 19:51



One Human Heartbeat [] by data scientist and communicator Jen Lowe displays the dynamics of Jen's heartbeat from about one day ago.

The data is captured by a Basis B1 band, which is able to detect one's heart rate by measuring the pulse and blood flow, and then records the average heart rate for each minute. As the data currently can only be accessed via a USB connection, the data shown on the webpage is from exactly 24 hours ago.

Next to the obvious, bright red spiral of life/death in the middle of the screen, a small, numerical countdown counter reveals how many heart beats are left (at least in comparison to the US average life expectancy).

See also Heart Beat Bracelet Display and Heart Beat Water Bowl.

Browser Plugin Maps Your Browser History as a Favicon Tapestry

Mon, 03/24/2014 - 19:27



Iconic History [] by Carnegie Mellon University interaction design student Shan Huang is as simple as it is beautifully revealing.

The Chrome browser plugin resulted as an accidental discovery while developing a quite sophisticated 3D webpage bookshelf for a particular course work assignment. It fetches the according favicon for each URL that was visited, and compiles all icons into a huge tapestry, in a sequence that is identical to the historical access order. As each icon is still linked to the original URL, one is able to return to the original website.

Via FastCoDesign.

LEGO Calendar: a Tangible Wall-Mounted Planner that Can be Digitized

Wed, 03/19/2014 - 20:13



The LEGO Calendar [], developed by design and invention studio Vitamins, is a wall-mounted time planner that simply can be photographed to create an online, digital counterpart.

The calendar is big, visible, tactile and flexible, as it makes the most of the tangibility of physical objects, and the ubiquity of digital platforms. It also looks neat and tidy, while keeping a certain degree of anonimity, not revealing client names or project information by casual passers-by.

See also:
. 3D Infographic Maps Built with Lego
. New York in Lego
. Lego-Based Time Tracking
. Fight Club Narrative in Lego

HubCab: Mapping All Taxi Trips in New York in 2011

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 20:19



The densely populated yet beautiful HubCab [] by MIT Senseable Lab is an interactive map that captures the more than 170 million unique taxi trips that were made by around 13,500 taxi cabs within the City of New York in 2011.

The map shows exactly how - and when - taxis picked up or dropped off individuals, hereby highlighting particular zones of condensed pickup and drop-off activities during specific times of day.

The map lead to the development of the concept of "shareability networks", which allows for the efficient modeling and optimization of the trip-sharing opportunities. The according sharing benefits consider the total fare fare savings to passengers, the distance savings in travelled miles, and the CO2 emission savings in kg of CO2 that result from potentially shared trips.

See also CabSpotting by Stamen Design and Tracking Taxi Flow Across the City by NYTimes.

CODE_n: Architectural-Scale Data Visualizations Shown at CeBit 2014

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 20:40



I guess that CODE_n [], developed by design agency Kram/Weisshaar, is best appreciated when perceived in the flesh, that is at the Hannover Fairgrounds during CeBit 2014 in Hannover, Germany.

CODE_n consists of more than 3.000 square meters (approx. 33,000 ft2) of ink-jet printed textile membranes, stretching more than 260 meters of floor-to-ceiling tera-pixel graphics.

The 12.5 terapixel, 90-meter long wall-like canopy titled "Retrospective Trending", shows over 400 lexical frequency timelines ranging from the years 1800 to 2008, each generated using Google's Ngram tool. The hundreds of search terms relate to ethnographic themes of politics, economics, engineering, science, technology, mathematics, and philosophy, resulting in the output of historical trajectories of word usage over time.

The 6.2 terapixel "Hydrosphere Hyperwall" is a visualization of the global ocean as dynamic pathways, polychrome swathes of sea climate, data-collecting swarms of mini robots and sea animals, as well as plumes of narrow current systems. NASA's ECCO2 maps were interwoven with directional arrows that specify wind direction and data vectors that represent buoys, cargo floats, research ships, wave gliders, sea creatures and research stations.

Finally, the 6.6 terapixel "Human Connectome" is a morphological map of the human brain. Consisting of several million multi-coloured fibre bundles and white matter tracts that were captured by diffusion-MRIs, the structural descriptions of the human mind were generated at 40 times the scale of the human body. The 3D map of human neural connections visualizes brain dynamics on an ultra-macro scale as well as the infinitesimal cell-scale.

The question remains... what will they do with these textiles after CeBit is over?


Photos by David Levene.

HereHere: Mapping the Concerns of NY Citizens as an Iconographic Map

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 20:36



Here Here [], developed by Future Social Experiences (FuSE) Labs at Microsoft Research, expresses neighborhood-specific public data by mapping it as text labels and cartoon-like iconography.

The data is based on New York City's 311 non-emergency data stream, consisting of the concerns and issues as reported by New York residents via email, phone calls, or text messages. Each day, HereHere pulls this 311 data for each neighborhood and identifies the most compelling, important 311 request types, after which the system generates appropriate cartoons and text that represent a neighborhood's typical reactions.

The iconographic communication approach is coined as 'characterization', and hypothesized to bring immediacy and a human scale to an otherwise overwhelming amount of abstract information. Next to developing an intriguing publicly available map, FuSE Labs wants to understand how this characterization can be a tool for data engagement, and aims to measure the impact of how people relate to their community when they can interact with data in this way.

More detailed information is also available here. Via Engadget.

Sorting: Understanding How Famous Sorting Algorithms Work

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 20:10



There are quite a few visualizations of sorting algorithms out there, such as at and "Sorting" [], developed by Nokia data visualization designer Carlo Zapponi, brings some innovation to this field by tackling the issue educationally (explaining algorithm step by step) as well as artistically.

The project was initiated to create visual representations of sorting algorithms with the hope of discovering patterns in their visual footprints. It provides an interactive walk-through that guides the reader step after step along the process of ordering a lists of integer numbers for a selection of sorting algorithms.

Exploring Ball Locations and Player Behaviors in Basketball

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 20:06



"Game on!" by Fathom Information Design is an exploratory visualization prototype that allows users to parse through a basketball game's data, to investigate the behaviors and patterns in terms of the statistics and locations of players.

Based on a vast collection of performance statistics as well as real-time tracked ball and player positions, the tools allows one to explore some potentially interesting patterns, such as each player's recurrent locations, standings, and alignments according to their team position, the concentration of movement around the 3-point mark, any personally preferred shooting spots, or the fact that players tend to transition into offence along the sides of the court

The actual data was acquired by linking noteworthy game event markings to a smart computer-vision algorithm that analyzes top-down video footage, which results in a large set of X, Y, Z positions for each player and the ball for every video frame.

See also:
. The 3D Trajectories of the Tennis Ball during the Final ATP Matches
. The NYTimes Visualization of Live World Cup Football Statistics
. VisualSport: Social Visualization of (Live) World Cup Football Statistics
. Adidas Match Tracker: Experience Soccer Games Like a Data Geek
. Guardian Interactive Chalkboards: Map and Share Soccer Game Events

Google Maps Gallery Highlights Specialized Maps based on Public Data

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 20:45



Google recently launched a dedicated Maps Gallery [] to showcase a collection of hand-picked maps from several preferred organizations, such as the National Geographic, the U.S. Geological Survey or the City of Edmonton. It is the goal that in the future, people will find most maps not through the gallery, but via the standard search results.

The included maps range from the somewhat unappealing population statistics map based based on data from the World Bank, over an intriguing overview map of all fastfood location in the US, to the beautifully rendered Dominican Republic AdventureMap by the National Geographic.

Participants who apply for the program and are selected by Google receive free access to the enterprise version of Google Maps Engine, which includes specific connectors that facilitates easy importation of public data.

Via TechCrunch, The Verge, CNET, and many others.

On The Role Data Visualization Plays in the Scientific Process

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 20:09



In a new exhibition titled Beautiful Science: Picturing Data, Inspiring Insight [], the British Library pays homage to the important role data visualization plays in the scientific process.

The exhibition can be visited from 20 February until 26 May 2014, and contains works ranging from John Snow's plotting of the 1854 London cholera infections on a map to colourful depictions of the Tree of Life.

"Science is beautiful... but we can also bring an aesthetic to it with makes it so much more impactful and can allow to have your ideas a much greater reach"

In a Nature Video, watchable below, curator Johanna Kieniewicz explores some of the beautiful examples of visualizations that are exhibited.

Visualising Mill Road: Informing Communities by Infographics in the Street

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 16:32



Visualising Mill Road [] by Lisa Koeman, Vaiva Kalnikaite and Yvonne Rogers from ICRI Cities was a community project that combined citizen participation and public data visualization to inform a community on what other members of that community think of specific local issues.

The subjective opinions from local inhabitants were gathered by voting devices that were installed within several local shops. The results from this survey were visualized on the pavement in front of the shops, with the help of local artists. As more questions were asked, the infographic visualization became a bit bigger every other day.

See also:
. "Infovis Graffiti: Spray Painting Infographics in the Wild"
. "Broadsides: Showing Infographics... in the Street"
. a recent project of our own in the realm of "Street Infographics" (PDF).

Mapping All Intercity Bus Routes in the U.S.

Tue, 02/25/2014 - 20:20



AIBRA, short for American Intercity Bus Riders Association, has recently released a detailed map [] containing all the intercity bus lines currently in operation within the U.S. Not surprisingly, the resulting transportation grid correlates closely with population density, which in itself varies widely across the country.

While its first goal is to foster a positive perception of the current intercity bus system, at least in theory, the map should also be able to help you out to get from anywhere to anywhere.

Via The Huffington Post.

Dancing Statistics: Communicating Psychology to the Public through Dance

Mon, 02/24/2014 - 20:50



Do you know what correlation, variance, frequency distributions, sampling and standard errors are? If not, you now have to chance to learn each of these statistical concepts via the medium of... modern dance.

Initiated by Lucy Irving (Middlesex University) and Andy Field (University of Sussex), who, the project "Communicating Psychology to the Public through Dance" was funded by BPS Public Engagement with additional funding attracted from IdeasTap.

It consists of 4 YouTube movies that present several rather complicated psychological constructs and statistical procedures by a series of gracious and well-coordinated dancing gestures (together with some inevitable powerpoint-based textual explanations). The expectation is that, as well as being fun and educational, these films will demystify and take some of the fear out of statistics, by demonstrating that thinking about them in new ways may make them easier to comprehend.

Watch the 4 movies below.

See also:
. Math Dances: Imitating Data Visualization Techniques through Dance
. Protein Synthesis People Chains
. Typographic Reinterpretation of Cunningham's Dancing Hands

Canvas Shows All the Lint Generated by a Clothes Dryer during One Year

Fri, 02/21/2014 - 15:50



The concept is original, yet simple. Assistant Professor of Arts Technology Rick Valentin and his partner created a life-size physical visualization of all the lint that they collected from their clothes dryer during the last year.

The work thus consists of the actual lint, which was needle-felted onto a 26 foot (8m) long canvas banner as a sort of dot plot that references the metaphor of DNA analysis.

Watch the video below explaining the art work.

Selfie City: a Visualization-Centric Analysis of Online Self-Portraits

Wed, 02/19/2014 - 15:14



Selfie City [], developed by Lev Manovich, Moritz Stefaner, Mehrdad Yazdani, Dominikus Baur and Alise Tifentale, investigates the socio-popular phenomenon of self-portraits (or selfies) by using a mix of theoretic, artistic and quantitative methods.

The project is based on a wide, sophisticated analysis of tens of thousands of selfies originating from 5 different world cities (New York, Sao Paulo, Berlin, Bangkok, Moscow), with statistical data derived from both automatic image analysis and crowd-sourced human judgements (i.e. Amazon Mechanical Turk). Its analysis process and its main findings are presented through various interactive data visualizations, such as via image plots, bar graphs, an interactive dashboard and other data graphics.

Accordingly, Selfie City is able to provide quick access to all female, heavily left-leaning, widely smiling, glasses-wearing selfies from New York, if you would be interested in this particular demographic. It also demonstrates some preliminary indications on how most people that are featured on selfies are relatively young, how significantly more women take selfies than men, and how women tend to strike more extreme poses.

Slime-Based Maps Simulate Real-World Transportation Networks

Tue, 02/18/2014 - 19:27



Several research groups around the world in the area of mobility and transportion optimization are exploring the use of a particular slime mould, Physarum polycephalum (the "many-headed slime"), to establish the most efficient routes around congested cities and countries.

The moeba-like creature forages for food by sending out branches (plasmodia) from a central location, with a speed of approximately 1cm per hour in optimum conditions. Even though it forms long, sprawling networks, it biologically still remains a single cell. As the creature uses its tentacles to explore for nearby food sources, and then thins out those part that do not contribute, it is able to find the most effective way of linking together scattered sources of food, or even find the shortest path through a maze.

As a by-product of this biomimicry-inspired optimization, it also creates some intriguing physical maps.

Several more detailed news articles on this research method are available at The Guardian, New Scientist and Discover Magazine. Alternatively, the academic paper "Rules for Biologically Inspired Adaptive Network Design" can be found here.

3D Globe Visualizes the Flows of Food-Aid Funding among Countries

Tue, 02/18/2014 - 19:15



WFP: Country Donors and Recipients [] by Santiago Ortiz shows all World Food Programme (WFP) funding from 2003 to present as flows among individual countries.

Each country on the low-polygon count, interactive 3D globe can be selected, in order to reveal how much aid money is directed from and to that specific country. A separate stacked flow chart can be further explored to investigate how popular destinations and origins trend over time.

Reminds me of Google Visualizes Global Transfers of Small Arms and Ammunition.

How we Spend: Presenting Economic Statistics as a Narrative Infographic

Thu, 02/13/2014 - 20:03



How We Spend [] by Matthew C. Klein of Bloomberg Visual Data is narrative and visually engaging "interactive infographic" of nevertheless dry and boring data.

The full-window infographic consists of a collection of interactive line graphs that smoothly animate between different arguments. Overall, the piece explores the question how the U.S. population spends money, and how that has changed over time.

Consequently, U.S. spending data is analyzed in terms of its correlation with GDP and its overall composition (e.g. food, clothing, gasoline). Apparent trends, like the impact of the housing crisis, the increasing popularity of online shops, and the importance of cars and gasoline are highlighted and succinctly discussed.

Fathom Design Creates Infographic PDF Posters from Nike+ FuelBand Data

Wed, 02/12/2014 - 09:19



Fathom Design, lead by visualization design pioneer Ben Fry, just released Year in Nike Fuel []. Based on Nike's public developer APIs, the posters allow various kinds of patterns to be recognized, as the working dad, the mountaineer, the gym-rat, or the city slicker all have distinct patterns, routines, and lifestyles in terms of Nike+ Fuelband data.

The top of the poster is meant to be evocative and memorable, while the area at the bottom focuses on breaking down the actual numbers and the details of movement. As a poster, it can be enjoyed at a distance, as well as closeby. Each day is represented by semi-transparent shapes, so the places where shapes overlap denote more ingrained behavioral patterns. While the fire-like layers on the top portion of the poster depict the regular intensity and activity levels of each individual, the bottom section of the poster aggregates various metrics and statistics.

More detailed information can be found at the Fathom website.

Via FastCoDesign.

Circular Binning Map Highlights Enjoyable U.S. Weather Conditions

Tue, 02/11/2014 - 19:58



Binning is a clever method to avoid overlapping data points by aggregating multiple points in a grid of polygons, and using color to denote the relative density (see some interesting explanations here and here).

The map The Pleasant Places to Live [] by software engineer Kelly Norton exploits this technique to highlight those locations within the US that experience an enjoyable ambient temperature the year round, and little rain or snow. In addition, hovering over a separate bin reveals a minimalistic time-based temperature graph for that location.

Via Wired.