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Randy Krum infographic designerRandy Krum
President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization and Infographic Design

Infographic Design

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Entries in America (6)

Friday
May132016

American Slavery Maps

American Slavery Maps Infographic

Bill Rankin at Radical Cartography has created nine uniform grid maps of American Slavery covering each decade from 1790 to 1870. I've combined them into the animated GIF you see above. Bill took a new approach in analyzing the historical data by 250 square mile units instead of the traditional data by county.

The gradual decline of slavery in the north was matched by its explosive expansion in the south, especially with the transition from the longstanding slave areas along the Atlantic coast to the new cotton plantations of the Lower South. And although the Civil War by no means ended the struggle for racial equality, it marked a dramatic turning point; antebellum slavery was a robust institution that showed no signs of decline.

Mapping slavery presents a number of difficult problems. The vast majority of maps — both old and new — use the county as the unit of analysis. But visually, it is tough to compare small and large counties; the constant reorganization of boundaries in the west means that comparisons across decades are tricky, too. And like all maps that shade large areas using a single color, typical maps of slavery make it impossible to see population density and demographic breakdown at the same time. (Should a county with 10,000 people and 1,000 slaves appear the same as one that has 100 people and 10 slaves?)

My maps confront these problems in two ways. First, I smash the visual tyranny of county boundaries by using a uniform grid of dots. The size of each dot shows the total population in each 250-sqmi cell, and the color shows the percent that were slaves. But just as important, I've also combined the usual county data with historical data for more than 150 cities and towns. Cities usually had fewer slaves, proportionally, than their surrounding counties, but this is invisible on standard maps. Adding this data shows the overwhelming predominance of slaves along the South Carolina coast, in contrast to Charleston; it also shows how distinctive New Orleans was from other southern cities. These techniques don't solve all problems (especially in sparsely populated areas), but they substantially refocus the visual argument of the maps — away from arbitrary jurisdictions and toward human beings.

For a graphic explanation of this technique, see here.

I appreciate him explaining his map technique! Each decade is a separate high-resolution map image, but Bill also created a fantastic combined map showing the highest Peak Slavery levels of slavery throughout the entire time period.

The bottom map shows the peak number of slaves in each area, along with the year when slavery peaked. Except in Delaware, Maryland, and eastern Virginia, slavery in the south was only headed in one direction: up. Cartographically, this map offers a temporal analysis without relying on a series of snapshots (either a slideshow or an animation), and it makes it clear that a static map is perfectly capable of representing a dynamic historical process.

American Slavery Peak Map

 

Additionally, you can download a high-resolution poster version showing all nine decades:

American Slavery Maps Poster


 Found on FlowingData and CityLab

Friday
May032013

Subways of North America

Subways of North America infographic

Now this is truly meta.  A subway map visualization of all the Subways of North America from Randall Monroe of xkcd.com.

For the pedantic rail enthusiasts, the definition of a subway used here is, with some caveats, “a network containing high capacity grade-separated passenger rail transit lines which run frequently, serve an urban core, and are underground or elevated for at least part of their downtown route.” For the rest of you, the definition is “an underground train in a city.”

About one in three subways stops in North America are in NYC

Another great design from Randall!

Wednesday
Mar132013

Beautiful Animated Wind Maps

The static image above doesn’t do these maps justice.  Go see the Wind Map on the Hint.fm site to truly appreciate the design work from artists Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg.

An invisible, ancient source of energy surrounds us—energy that powered the first explorations of the world, and that may be a key to the future. This map shows you the delicate tracery of wind flowing over the US. 

The animation is mezmerizing, and the interactive piece allows you to click-to-zoom in closer to any part of the map to see much more detail in a specific region.  The main page shows the map based on the most current weather information, but the Gallery page has some snapshots linked to specific points in time (like Hurricane Sandy).  I love that even the speed legend on the side is animated!

You can also buy a poster version as an art print.

Thanks to Jeff Jarvis for sharing this on Google+!

Monday
Mar112013

Wealth Inequality in America

The Wealth Inequality in America infographic video was posted on YouTube back in November 2012.  The video is a good example of what the best infographic designs accomplish: Make the complex understandable.  

Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.

The data visualization in the video is very powerful and effective.  It takes the huge numbers that our brains have trouble processing, and visualizes them in a way that we can understand.  Comparing numbers puts them into context for the viewer, and comparing the different fifths of the population works very well in this instance.

The data sources are clearly listed at the end of the video, and they are even made available as clickable links in the video description on YouTube (which is very helpful).  This helps the credibility of the video tremendously.  Not many viewers (4,336,254 views as of the day I post this) will click to the links to view the source data, but they’re there.  Transparency creates credibility.

However, it’s not clear who created and is publishing the video, and this hurts the credibility a little bit, at least to a skeptic like me.  The video was uploaded by the user politizane, whose account was created just to upload this video.  No history of other videos, and no links to a company or website.  The author/designer obviously has an agenda, and spent a lot of time or money creating the video.  It would enhance the credibility even more if the viewer knew who was publishing and promoting the video.

Thanks to Doug for sending the link!

Friday
Feb012013

America's New Minority

America's New Minority infographic

The demographics of America are changing, and America’s New Minority from 59 Liberty shows us how far we have come and predicts the next 40 years.  

With the country’s changing demographics, whites will drop under 50% of the population in the 2040s. Every Republican Presidential candidate since 1968 has won the white vote, but with the population shift can the GOP compete?

This graphic simply presents the data of a changing electorate. We went through numerous iterations attempting to find something appealing that presented the data accurately.

We worked with Projects by Chi/Donahoe on concepts, Ripetungi on design, and Hustle Labs for PR support.

For direct access to the data used, please view the spreadsheet here.

I really like how simple and strong the message is with this design.  The data will be surprising to many people, so it should be popular with social sharing.

I LOVE that they include a link to the raw data in a Google Docs spreadsheet for anyone to get their hands on the raw numbers from the data sources.  The link is in the additional text on the infographic landing page.  It would be more effective if the URL of the infographic landing page and the Google Docs spreadsheet were both included in the infographic so they would be readily available to readers who see the infographic posted on other sites.

They also share some of the early drafts and other versions of the design they considered on the infographic landing page.  You can see a couple here, but there are more on the page at 59 liberty.

America's New Minority infographic

America's New Minority infographic

Tuesday
Oct232012

Tracking American Poverty - interactive infographic

Tracking American Poverty - interactive infographic

Tracking American Poverty & Policy is an interactive infographic visualization site that breaks down the data about…you guessed it…poverty in America.

The site provides a sequence of interactive pages that start with the overall poverty numbers, and then break them down in more detail by race, gender, education, age and family type.  In addition to the initial pie charts for the official poverty rate, the visualizations change to show details for Near Poverty, In Poverty and Deep Poverty numbers when you hover your pointer over each chart.

 

Tracking American Poverty - interactive infographic

You also have the option on each page to change the year to see how the number have changed from 1967 - 2010.

Good visualization design by Two-N