Information Aesthetics

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Visualizing Publicly Available US Government Data Online

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 08:11



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, 09/18/2014 - 20:05



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.

GitHut: the Universe of Programming Languages across GitHub

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 15:37



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.

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, 09/10/2014 - 20:23



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 .

The Key Players in the Middle East and their Relationships

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 19:48



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, 09/04/2014 - 13:02



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, 09/01/2014 - 18:52



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 .