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Entries in corporations (103)

Thursday
Jun102010

A Cool Interview with Nathaniel Pearlman (infographic designer)

 

With the release of the Visual History of the American Presidency last week, I asked Nathaniel Pearlman, infographic designer and President of Timeplots, LLC, if he would be willing to do a short interview.  Nathaniel was nice enough to answer a few questions about his infographic design process and his projects.

Nathaniel started the company in May 2009 and released the Visual History of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) (which you see above) as their first infographic poster. 

Here’s the interview with Nathaniel:

 

Cool Infographics: What software applications do you use for the Timeplots posters?

Nathaniel Pearlman: So far we have programmed our graphics in the R language and done some final design work in Illustrator. I’m interested in hearing about other platforms to use for complex data and layout — especially other software applications that would allow us to create interactive and print versions from the same code base.


Cool Infographics: Can you describe your design process?

Nathaniel Pearlman: We start by asking ourselves what an informed audience would want to know about the subject we’re tackling. For example, for the presidential print, we asked ourselves, “Why is each president important? Why should people care about these guys? What is measurable about the context in which they served, and how could we show that?”

Then we go through a data collection phase: we take some time to see what data has already been collected on the subject, we catalog sources, and then we obtain data (and rights, if necessary) for the information we need. We wait until we have the hard data and have examined it and visualized it in several ways before we settle on what stories we can pull out of it.

The primary phase of the design process is iterative – there is a lot of trial and error. For example, we programmed (and scrapped) several major design ideas for our Senate print before settling on the current version. It turns out that our process is longer and more involved than I expected. Each print thus far has taken many months of data collection, design, and review. We also included quite a number of reviewers into our design process, folks with substantive expertise and designers as well.


Cool Infographics: What’s the most interesting thing you learned from the data?

Nathaniel Pearlman: I like the big picture: for me, the presidential print shows a historical view into the sweep of U.S. history — a marked contrast with the more journalistic, and immediate, take on the political and economic state of the nation that we are used to seeing in the news. It lengthened my perspective on current events, and I hope that it does so for those who purchase the print.

When you see the entire span of U.S. history visualized in just a few feet of space, you see the economy bouncing up and down, the parties jockeying back and forth, the budget bumping along. The ups and downs then seem fairly routine from this perspective, especially when compared to the sensationalism of our daily headlines. The other thing that really stands out is the growth of the country since 1789, both economically (in real GDP) and in population. As to the small picture: I love seeing details of each election — what percentage of the vote did Strom Thurmond get in 1948, for example, and which states did he win — so we tried to put each election into context with a scoreboard and electoral cartogram wrapped around the curve of party control of the executive.

 


Cool Infographics: What was the hardest part behind designing the Presidential poster?

Nathaniel Pearlman: When you see a finished product like ours, what you miss are the hundreds of decisions that were labored over as it was created. For me, the most difficult thing is deciding when I’m done. Every time I look at a new draft, I have ideas for changes that could be made. At some point I have to say “enough is enough; we are done.” The other hard part is writing the text that’s included on the print.. just crafting short explications of each presidency is difficult.


Cool Infographics: Where are some of your favorite places that have the SCOTUS poster on display?

Nathaniel Pearlman: We are happy that the U.S. Supreme Court library displays a framed print, and the gift shop in the Supreme Court building itself carries the print. We’ve also seen many purchases by legal luminaries — we’re not legal experts ourselves, so it’s nice to see that the experts appreciate our work. A son of a current justice bought one. Also, many high school teachers from across the country have purchased prints for their classrooms (we offer discounts for educators); it’s great to see teachers showing interest in using data visualization as an educational tool.


Cool Infographics: Where do you have the posters printed, what are the printing specs and why? 

Nathaniel Pearlman: We shopped around quite a bit for a printer, because we are fussy about the results – we wanted the quality of the paper to top-notch, we needed relatively fast turnaround and reliable fulfillment, and we wanted the printing process to be environmentally friendly — all of this, of course, at an affordable cost. We currently offset-print the posters in Maryland, at Whitmore printing, and they also do our fulfillment. (Ideally, we would like to find an affordable on-demand printer who can handle our large-scale posters and fulfillment. If we found this, we would be able to sell shorter-run prints; please send me any suggestions!)


Cool Infographics: Would you share some thoughts on running a business selling infographic posters?

Nathaniel Pearlman: I am enjoying Timeplots. As a profit-generating business, it is not for the faint-of-heart. I am lucky to have some time and space to try it, but it is unlikely to run in the black for quite some time. My first company, NGP Software, Inc. (www.ngpsoftware.com) is doing well and allows me to do this on the side.


Cool Infographics: How has the Timeplots On Demand side of the business been going with private clients? 

Nathaniel Pearlman: We’ve really enjoyed working with people who aren’t necessarily familiar with data visualization — everyone who we’ve worked with has been more than happy with the results. So — if anyone reading this has a project in mind, or if you want us to create a visualization for you or your institution — let us know!


Cool Infographics: How did the process of using Amazon Mechanical Turk for proofreading work for you?

Nathaniel Pearlman: Mechanical Turk is a good method for crowd-sourcing some kinds of work. We’ve used it for three separate projects now — twice for proofreading, and once for fact-checking research. We have gotten more hits than misses, so it’s been worthwhile. Eliza manages that process and has been impressed by the level of work she has received. The Mechanical Turk worker community (“turkers,” as they call themselves) are serious about their work, and it shows. In a couple cases, a “turker” found an error that we all missed: for example, when we posted the presidential print for proofreading, one turker pointed out that we listed Vice President John C. Breckinridge as “Breckenridge,” clearly misspelling his name. Another turker noted that we had described President Taylor as dying “halfway” through his term, when in fact it was a few months prior to “halfway.”


Cool Infographics: What should we expect in the future from Timeplots?

Nathaniel Pearlman: We have a rough list of fifty or sixty more projects we would love to do. After we launch the Senate print, we will decide what is next. I would love to hear from your audience what they would like to see, and we are always looking for collaborators, if someone would like to work with us on a project that they care about. We’re always open to new ideas!

 

Thursday
Jun032010

Which Retailers are Closing their Doors?

From Milo.com, Which Retailers are Closing their Doors? is an infographic showing which retail chains in America have closed the most locations.

Although the recession is technically now over, it was not without its victims. And while independent mom-and-pop stores certainly suffered, many chain stores across the country also felt the heat. Few retailers were safe from layoffs and store closings, but the entertainment and apparel industries in particular seem to have bore the brunt of the pain. Below are the retailers that had no choice but to close some, or all, of their doors.

Created by Column Five Media.

For our most recent infographic for Milo, we took a look at which of America’s largest retailers were closing up shop(s). This graphic illustrated the fifty retailers that were closing the most store locations.

Monday
May242010

Ecological Footprint from Digital Eskimo

In their interactive 2009 Ecological Footprint infographic report, Digital Eskimo has used the analogy of the football field (soccer field in America) to visualize their impact because global hectares (the standard units of ecofootprint measurement) aren’t easy to conceptualize.

I love that the team at Digital Eskimo is not only using this infographic to share results and information within the company, but also sharing it publicly to demonstrate their commitment to working on projects that inspire positive social, organisational and environmental change.  Infographics are a VERY powerful tool for communicating clear messages within your company, even if you never share it with the outside world.

Digital Eskimo has always worked very hard to minimise our impact on the environment. In order to help us better understand these impacts, and develop more effective strategies to address them, we calculated our ecological footprint for the 2009 financial year.

Ecological footprinting is one way of measuring whether the way in which we operate is sustainable in a global context. We chose this method because it is widely used, it provides results in an understandable format while clearly showing relative impacts of different elements of our operations.

Thanks to Sally for the link and a description of how Digital Eskimo is walking the talk.

Thursday
May132010

Facebook's Maze of Privacy Settings Infographic

The NY Times just published this infographic tree that shows how complex the privacy settings on Facebook have become.  I’ve got to imagine that Facebook wants the PR credit for giving their users a lot of control over these settings, but then in reality they know that they are so complicated that hardly anyone will take the time figure them out.

It’s astonishing how much of your personal information becomes public if you don’t take the time to figure all of this out.

 

The ever-increasing complexity of the Facebook Privacy Policy is another example of how complicated the privacy issue is.  It’s a fine line that Facebook has to walk to utilize their members traffic for advertising and respecting their privacy.  It seems to me that advertising is winning.

Found on Fast Company

Monday
May102010

BP Oil Relief Plan Infographic

BP has released this infographic, Relief Wells & Subsea Containment, showing how they plan to seal the oil well leak in the Gulf of Mexico, and the current progress at 8,788ft.

British Petroleum intends to drill two wells designed to intersect the original wellbore above the oil reservoir. This will allow heavy fluid to be pumped into the well which will stop the flow of oil from the reservoir. Cement will then be pumped down to permanently seal the well.

BP needs to cement 7 casings into place before the relief well can intersect with the main drill pipe which is pouring approximately 5,000 barrels of oil per day into the ocean. They have completed 3 casings, with 4 remaining. They have reached a drill depth of just below 10,000 feet, with another 8,000 feet remaining. At about 12,000 feet they will begin angling toward the center of the damaged oil pipe.

BP has estimated that the project will require 90 days to complete the first relief well.

Original post on HollywoodBackstage.com, found on VizWorld.com

Tuesday
May042010

The Music Industry and Online Piracy, infographic by the numbers


Music And Piracy Infographic by =curseofthemoon on deviantART

Great infographic by D. Israel Peralta, The Music Industry & Online Piracy by The Numbers does a good job at examining at the different ways that online music has impacted the music industry.

You can see more of Israel’s work on DeviantArt.  A high-resolution version is also available.

Link found on Chemicalism

Monday
Mar152010

The FedEx Universe

Revised Infographic

Robin Richards (ripetungi) created this infographic about the FedEx Universe for MeetTheBoss.com.  The version above is slightly modified to correct the size of some of the bubbles, add some mind-map style connection lines and add some photo images.

 

Created for MeetTheBoss.tv, it is a celebration of Fedex as a company and its size.  Working thought creating this, I was amazed at the huge numbers involved in running a global company and getting packages around the earth.  This is what I have tried to show.

I have updated this infographic.  I received some great feedback from Randy Krum over at Coolinfographics.com (Great Site) and on reflection decided that it could be improved with greater use of the bubble mind map graphics.  So that is what I have done.  Also added some more eye candy with images inside of the main bubble totals. Let me know what any thoughts on the old vs the new.

 

You can see the original version below, and Robin has posted some comment about creating it on his blog, ripetungi.com.  There’s a lesson here for infographic designers everywhere; the viewer sees the area of objects as representative of scale.  So in the original version, the diameter of the bubbles changed with the value, but in the corrected version, the area of the bubbles changes.  When the diameter increased by 2x, that meant that the area increased by 3.5x and the bubbles didn’t accurately represent the values.

Also worth noting that Robin created this infographic in ONE day.  Great work under tight timelines!


Original Version

Thursday
Dec102009

The Carbon Economy - Infographic Video

New infographic video from Xplane.com.  The Carbon Economy takes a look at the political landscape around climate issues and new, green markets are emerging.

Created with The Economist, the video conveys the state of global climate change and what steps must be taken to reach a positive outcome. The piece was shown at The Economist’s recent Carbon Economy Summit in November 2009.
Timed with the publication of a special report in The Economist, The Carbon Economy summit examines how the political environment has changed since Kyoto and how committed regions and industries are to a sustainable carbon strategy.

 

Tuesday
Dec012009

Vote With Your Dollars! - Corporate Political Contributions infographic



Vote With Your Dollars, is a corporate political contributions map.  Using the public data from the Center for Responsive Politics (2004-2008), GoodGuide.com has plotted the balance of contributions from companies.  Mouse-over a specific company logo to see the detailed data (like Dell above).
View the political contributions of your favorite companies and see how you vote with your dollars.  The data is surprising!
You can choose specific companies or business sectors, and then change the sort order.  Here is the retail sector sorted by Most Democratic Leaning:



Thanks Anthony for sending in the link.  Sorry it took so long to get posted.

Wednesday
Oct282009

A Graphic History of Newspaper Circulation



From The Awl, this certainly isn't the prettiest infographic I've ever seen (it's basically just a line chart), but it tells it's story to the viewer very well.  Maybe there are times when a simple chart from Excel can do the job...NAH.   From a title that proclaims "A Graphic History of Newspaper Circulation" we certainly expect much more visual information.

I'm sure many of the graphic designers reading this blog could turn this data into a significantly better infographic (hint, hint...).

Every six months, the Audit Bureau of Circulations releases data about newspapers and how many people subscribe to them. And then everyone writes a story about how some newspapers declined some amount over the year previous. Well, that's no way to look at data! It's confusing—and it obscures larger trends. So we've taken chunks of data for the major newspapers, going back to 1990, and graphed it, so you can see what's actually happened to newspaper circulation. (We excluded USA Today, because we don't care about it. If you're in a hotel? You're reading it now. That's nice.)
Some surprising trends: the New York Post has the same circulation it had two decades ago! Also, the once-captivating battle of the New York City tabloids has become completely moot.
Some unsurprising trends: the Los Angeles Times is an absolute horrorshow. Not shown: the Boston Globe disappearing off the bottom of this chart, in a two decade decline from 521,000 in 1990 to 264,105 this year.
Found on Daring Fireball.

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