Zombies, HTML5 and Google Maps

April 18, 2012By carlainteractives

Hmmm. File under… data visualization? Tag as zombies, survival, humor?

The Map of the Dead – Zombie Survival Map was built with HTML5’s geolocation functionality, the Google Places API, and Google Maps’ stylized maps feature. Designed by Doejo, It’s simple and, though it could have used a more robust feature-set (those little place icons could tell a good story), it nonetheless has a clean, simple interface and three toggling map views (map, danger zone and no danger zone).

Map of the Dead - Zombie Survival Map

Soccer and treemapping: infographic

April 17, 2012By carlainformation

Remember Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries in 200 Years, the four-minute snippet of the Joy of Stats documentary? If only all data visualizations could convey the energy of this passionate four-minute narration, we wouldn’t be be writing cheeky/snarky commentaries on bad infographics–we’d all be learning R or something, I guess.

Perusing the interwebs in search of entertainment, accuracy and clarity, and lamenting the fact that my toddler has encroached upon my ability to watch uninterrupted fútbol, I came across a nice example of tree mapping–clear and to the point. More importantly, it shows where the Premier League spent its precious pounds on transfer players in 2011. Wondering if we’ll see more transfer scandals like Tevez and West Ham, but that’s a different blog, I suppose.

If you’re interested in tree maps, read the 10 Lessons in Treemap Design by Juice Analytics. Yes, it was written waaaay back in 2009 but still holds true, IMHO.

Premier League soccer transfer spending 2011

Writing from the sea: Mapping wikipedia

April 15, 2012By carlainteractives, news

When I first saw the Mapping Wikipedia project by TraceMedia (via FastCompany) I asked myself, “How are they writing from the sea?” I must have asked out loud because my partner responded, “Maybe they are in boats.” Maybe.

In all seriousness, this is an incredibly beautiful visualization that highlights Wikipedia activity across the world, filtered through seven languages and all countries, under the context of the Middle East and North Africa (it was designed as part of a project which studies those regions, so you’ll see right away that the language filters all relate to this geography–e.g., French and no Spanish).

I have to admit that I spent an inordinately long amount of time trying to recreate all the authors in boats scenario that I saw in the Fast Company screenshot (below). I couldn’t, but I had fun trying. All joking aside, the apparent simplicity bely the richness of the data underneath–this project was built using OpenLayers and GoogleMaps and is yet another example of the capabilities of HTML5. And FastCompany does a nice job of hinting at the myriad possibilities that something like this could open up. Take some time to select a few troubled spots in the world and you’ll see what I mean.

Wikipedia in Europe

Bad infographics. A crime against humanity?

April 14, 2012By carlainformation

Stumbled across Bob LeDrew’s post on bad, bad infographics (the extra “bad” is mine). Point well-taken. Bad infographics, Bob writes, follow the same cycle as most technologies or skills that begin with a small group of people with specialized knowledge, then become corrupted by the great unwashed masses who insert their own opinions and tawdry styles (in the case of infographics and data viz, this would be opinions on colors, typography, composition and–egads–data). Okay, Bob was not being nearly as cheeky as I am–he was making a good point. Good infograpics have gone bad.

I suppose it’s tempting for eager designers to vomit up some large fonts, colors and a few rows of Excel and call it a day.

Heck, I’ve done it. It’s fun. I also remember learning Photoshop back in 1995 or so and using the hell out of the “Clouds” filter for a few weeks. And the day I discovered Myriad and didn’t stop using it for two years (still do).

So, where was I going with all of this? Oh, right. Bad infographics. My point–Bob’s right, sort of. But I also think that it is really, really cool that there are so many people out there that are actually interested in information. Bob links to Doug Haslam’s hysterical Pinterest board “Infographic Crimes Against Humanity.” I laughed until I cried, and then I cried some more. And then I posted some of them as my favorites. On Facebook, even. Really, I did. Sorry Doug. But the beer ones were pretty good. And then there’s PhD in Facial Hair. Made. My. Day. My beloved partner’s assessment of these two infographics, by the way? “I kind of like it, but I don’t know anything.”

Exactly.

Beer saved the worldFacial hair

 

Legos as a data visualization tool?

April 14, 2012By carlainformation, news

Yep, according to GM. An interesting article by Fast Company by talks about how GM, frustrated with data coming in traditional form (reports, bar charts, etc.), wasn’t getting the message across–a 2D solution wasn’t highlighting a 3D problem. So they used Legos to denote very physical things like location (colors denote where a particular part was located in a vehicle) and size (how bad is the problem).

Interesting. I find myself wondering how we, as designers, would tackle visualizing information differently if we could build it and model it in physical, not virtual, space.

I do know that switching media–a sketch on a napkin, laying out post-its on my whiteboard, or positioning pencils on a table–can be a useful way to inject perspective into a design. With a toddler in the house, I realize that I may have more tools at my disposal…

geeking out on a good infographic

April 13, 2012By carlainformation

I stumbled across Junk Charts’ informative deconstruction of a data-driven infographic on income distribution across the U.S.

Bottom line (and I agree)–lead with the data, but unobtrusively–don’t overtax the reader. The first thing you see is an intuitively simple breakdown of income distribution. The use of color is excellent–you don’t even have to read the legend closely to understand that dark means highest concentration of income (rich) and light means least (poor). And you can see at a glance how this plays out across states.

However, I did spend a minute trying to figure out what the top horizontal line meant on the second part of this chart (income distribution by state) and realized, belatedly, that it was the national average. I would have treated that just like a state so that users could compare easily, perhaps setting the color differently (e.g., dark blue to light blue). And, as Junk Charts correctly points out, ordering the states by something other than alpha order (e.g., quintiles) makes sense.

There’s some interesting back and forth about how the top and bottom scales are colored. Same colors used for two different scales–good or bad? Design or accuracy? You don’t always have to choose one or the other–I would have opted for a different, albeit complimentary, color scheme for each of the two.

Here’s the original infographic on income distribution, posted back in December 2011.

Income Distribution across the US

 

The Girl Store: Buy a girl her life back

April 11, 2012By carlainformation

Aside from winning a 2012 interactive award from Communication Arts magazine recently, and if for one second you can manage to forget the deep commitment of this site to protecting the welfare of young girls, you’d nonetheless be forced to admit that The Girl Store is magnificently beautiful. The interface is clean and intuitive. The choices are simple (and poignant) and the design of this product as a true e-commerce site where one can, indeed, “buy” these girls all evoke the power of turning the purchase of human beings on its head. I could go on, but I won’t. Visit the site.

The Girl Store - Buy a girl her life back