Taking their cue from people like statistician-fine artist Edward Tufte, many data visualizers have turned numbers and information into museum-worthy pieces. The opportunity that web 2.0 has brought is the ability for these visualizations to evolve over time or change based on the social connections of the people involved. For part 2 of this three-part serious, we will be looking at 10 gorgeous data visualizations. Again, this is far from a complete list…
1. Digg Labs (above)
It might seem surprising, but I think some of the most inspiring examples of data visualization can be seen over at the Digg Labs. Digg realized at some point that the sheer amount of links submitted on a daily basis had the makings for some great visualizations. Like Twistori, the beauty comes not only from the presentation of the data, but in knowing that it is unfolding in real time and using content from real people who aren’t really aware that their interactions are creating art.
Digg collaborated with Stamen Design to produce 5 unique projects. The best are Digg Arc, which displays stories, topics, and containers wrapped around a sphere, and Digg Swarm, which draws circles for stories as they’re dugg and diggers swarm around the stories to make them grow. In addition, Digg has also released a public API for their data so that anyone can turn it into their own inspired visualizations.
2. The Shape of Song
Have you ever wondered… what does music look like? The Shape of Song makes an effort to visually map out musical patterns in songs in the form of overlapping arches. Users can submit any composition available on the Web. The result in a simple but striking representation of the deeper structure of the song. There is also a gallery of some of the most interesting results.
3. Royksopp “Remind Me”
Next up is another video-based visualization that has it’s message unfold over time. Although the song, “Remind Me” by Royksopp (actually this is a remix), has been around since 2002 and has since been used in GEICO commercials, the message of the video is far from dated. Presented by means of motion infographics that no doubt took a great deal of effort to animate, the video goes through the daily life of an average woman in England and all that she consumes and produces.
4. Last.FM Listening History
After a year and a half on Last.fm, Lee Byron finally thought to ask the question, “What have I been listening to?”. Luckily, Last.fm, as a shining example of web 2.0, had that data available for Lee Byron to harvest and visualize. Last.fm created a wide variety of statistics, including the most frequently played musicians in his collection.
Lee used an algorithm to generate a series of posters. In this particular visualization featured on his website, each colored band represents a musical artist, progressing left to right through a span of 18-months. The band grows wider when he was more frequently listening to the artist, skinnier when he wasn’t. The color of the artist correlates to how recently Lee began listening to that artist with warmer colors being more recent and cooler colors being those he had listened to for a long period of time.
5. “Total Interaction” Essay Bubbles
In 2004, the Interaction Design Institute of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Zurich (wow, long title) published a book on “interaction” in the world of man-machine communications. The book compiled together nineteen essays from different perspectives. In addition to the essays, the book contained visualizations to help readers understand the content of each essay, how they related or contrasted to each other thematically. Using character count and word frequency, the essays come to look like a color-coded bulls-eye with an overlaying tag-cloud.
Walk2Web is an application that lets you surf the web in a new way. You can jump from site to site, while maintaining a view on the path that brought you there and the scope of the entire linked network. I imagine that an interaction like this could be very useful on a site like the business social network, LinkedIn.
7. Mapping Scientific Paradigms
In 2006, the journal Nature produced a paper print of a map of roughly 800,000 scientific papers. The map covered 776 different scientific paradigms (red circles) and showed how links (curved lines) were made between paradigms that shared common citations. The result is something that looks like an alien amoeba of some kind.
I am including some more traditional data visualizations in here, just because of the striking visual design. However, I still feel the real opportunity of web visualization comes from interactive and evolving data visualizations. I would love to see something like the Scientific Paradigms applied to something like, say, Wikipedia.
TweetWheel allows users to visualize their Twitter network in a simple, but eye-candy way. The tool displays the user’s entire twitter network and links in a Radial Convergence layout. The site was down when I tried to use it, but then again I tried entering in Robert Scoble’s Twitter ID. Maybe that was a little too much for the system.
9. Movie Box Office Charts
I am big into movies, so I was especially moved by Zach Beane’s visualization of Box Office Mojo. Inspired by Lee Bryon’s stream graphs and the works of Edward Tufte, Zach mapped the box office numbers of the top 25 movies for each weekend in a year. The color is based on the week the movie debuted. It is interesting to see how long-running movies intertwine with newer ones and also the box office sensations that just pop off the charts (like Dark Knight). The site is updated every week with new numbers.
10. Circling Galaxy
Finally, the Circling Galaxy explores the history of America’s Cup. The tool provides users a way to search through the boats and people part of this legendary race and visualize the connections between them. Already it gets you thinking about the interesting data visualizations that could come out of this year’s Olympics.
Next Week: 10 Humorous Data Visualizations