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Randy Krum infographic designerRandy Krum
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Data Visualization and Infographic Design

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Wednesday
Aug172016

The Fastest Men in the Olympics Since 1896

The Fastest Men in the Olympics Since 1896

To put Usain Bolt's 3rd consecutive Olympic Gold Medal for the 100m dash into perspective, the NY Times designed this great graphic showing Usain Bolt and the Fastest Men in the World Since 1896 – on the Same Track.

Usain Bolt’s historic third consecutive gold medal in the men’s 100-meter dash cemented his status as history’s greatest sprinter and the world’s fastest man. He edged out Justin Gatlin, an American, and Andre De Grasse, a Canadian, on his way to the gold.

But how does Bolt compare to the full Olympic field in the 100-meter dash – not just this year, but against every Olympic medalist since 1896? To answer that question, we created a massive (and imaginary) track with 88 lanes – one for every medal awarded in the 100-meter dash in the modern Olympics.

We then pitted these runners against each other in an imaginary race, using their average speeds. We froze all the runners at the moment the winner crossed the finish line.

This is an update to the same graphic they created in 2012 when he broke his own World Record. The 2012 piece also included this great infographic video explaining the significance of his win:

Found on FlowingData

Monday
Jul112016

PopWaves: Making of the Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music

PopWaves: Making of the Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music

This is one of my favorite designs! PopWaves is a fantastically detailed, hand-drawn poster that visualizes over 60 years (1955-2015) of the evolution of Pop and Rock music. It's a huge poster, measuring in at 89" x 24", over 7ft long! Released in 2015, PopWaves is a massive update to the original Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music design by Reebee Garofalo and printed posters are distributed by HistoryShots. When it was released, I sent Reebee and Larry Gormley (HistoryShots) a number of questions about creating the poster.

60 years of music! 1200 music artists! 75 genres! Two years in the making. PopWaves picks up where the classic Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music left off; it maps the top pop artists of each year since rock ‘n’ roll began by style. Bolded titles and genre boundaries show the flow and interrelationships among styles; artist names and dashed arrows represent moments of peak popularity. 

Meticulously researched, reviewed by experts, and subjectively categorized, this humongous, carefully hand-lettered, 7 foot long beast of a chart will provide you with endless hours of musical memories and arguments with your friends. Perfect for music lovers and owners of large walls everywhere.

 

PopWaves: Making of the Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music close upPopWaves: close up


PopWaves: Making of the Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music ZoomedEven closer!  

Reebee Garofalo with his complete designReebee Garofalo with his complete design

Cool Infographics: What were your thoughts and reasoning behind the new PopWaves poster design?

Reebee Garofalo: The original version of what is now called PopWaves grew from my love of pin striping on cars and my desire to capture the contours and flow of the mid-20th century pop/rock/soul market in graphic form, as part of the research I was doing for Rock 'N' Roll is Here to Pay: The History and Politics of the Music Industry by Steve Chapple and myself. I first got the idea from a rough drawing that Charlie Gillett did on the cover of the 1970 paperback edition of his seminal The Sound of the City. It first appeared as a three-page fold-out called Marketing Trends and Stylistic Patterns in Pop/Rock Music in early printings of the book, which was published in 1977, (and then was reduced to smaller sizes in subsequent printings). This is the version that appears in Ed Tufte’s Visual Explanations.

         

Original chart: Click to see in detail

Reebee Garofalo: In 1979, I was commissioned by NBC Radio to update the chart to 1978, at which point I renamed it The Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music. This is the version that is displayed on the HistoryShots website. In the interim, this graphic has had a long and venerable history of popping up in some very interesting places.


Reebee Garofalo: Although PopWaves is essentially an extension and an update of the Genealogy, the construction of PopWaves not only occasioned the creation of dozens of new genre names, it also necessitated some refinements in the original graphic. The soul categories were further subdivided to include southern soul and funk. Art rock, glam, and southern boogie were added to the rock lexicon.

Larry Gormley and I talked about updating and greatly expanding my original chart for many years. Finally, in 2013, the openness of my schedule and my enthusiasm to tackle such a large project aligned and I started work that spring. I once estimated that the original graphic took me about 100 hours to complete. PopWaves clocked in at around 300 hours. In both instances, I did all the initial design work and the original drawings myself, then brought in artists with calligraphy skills to do the final lettering. Larry spent another few hundred hours on graphic design creating the production-ready version of the chart. 

Reebee's hand-drawn design in progress

Reebee Garofalo: From the beginning I used the year-end pop charts of leading trade magazines like Billboard that Larry and I researched to compile the basic data, and consulted music encyclopedias, the rock press, and, more recently, any number of online databases, as well as a team of experts in the field (academics, radio personalities, music journalists, etc) to help me craft genres names and categorize hard-to-place artists. Still, the results are quite subjective, much more an art than a science. 

It is worth noting that the various inputs that determine the chart position of a given recording have changed over time. What was once a straightforward, if notoriously corrupt, tabulation of record sales and radio play, has become an unruly assemblage of new formats and platforms, and new ways of accessing and sharing music. As a result, it is unclear whether chart position in 2014 is measuring quite the same thing as chart position in 1967.

It is also important to note that the data I am using captures the top of the commercial bubble. These are not necessarily the most interesting or talented artists, or even the most influential musically. They are simply the most broadly popular at a given moment. So there are any number of other interesting graphic representations that could be made. But this is the one I wanted to make. All its contradictions notwithstanding, it attempts to tell the story of US popular music culture, writ large.

 

Cool Infographics: The poster is a large, odd size when compared to standard 24"x36" posters. Why the unusual size and will it cause complications?

Larry Gormley (HistoryShots): From the beginning we realized that in order to do it right, PopWaves needed to be big. We understood that some people may not have the necessary wall space (that’s why we’re going to continue to sell the original chart), however, we know that many people are looking for large-format statement pieces. Also, we’ve been selling over-sized graphics for many years so we feel comfortable with all the marketing and production complexities associated with selling large charts. We’re in the process of working with our framing partner to develop a canvas-wrapped triptych version that is going to be amazing. 

 

Reebee Garofalo: More History of the Chart

As soon as the chart hit the market in Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Pay, it started generating buzz in the music community. Early on, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wanted to use it as a permanent installation. It was actually displayed in the original architect’s model for the Rock Hall that was made by the Burdick Group of San Francisco. The Rock Hall even sent me a contract. But then there was a complete staff turnover, and a more active Board of Directors decided that it would be difficult to decide on an appropriate genealogy for this music. You can bet there was a back story there.

In May 1978, Steve Chapple and I had a piece in Mother Jones magazine on “The Rise and Fall of FM Rock.” It was accompanied by an uninspiring artist rendering of the chart that ran as a graphic over the story. I thought it was a rather lackluster interpretation that did no justice to the original, but there it was, in the pages of Mother Jones.

The following year, NBC Radio commissioned me to update the chart for a marketing campaign they were contemplating, which I did. The woman who contracted me, however, abruptly left her job and her marketing campaign sank without a trace. But this exercise led to the version of the chart that is now available through HistoryShots.

When WGBH-TV, Boston’s PBS television station, was first developing the idea for what became the 10 part series Rock and Roll, I was called in by the Executive Producer as a possible consultant to the project. I think I talked myself out of a potentially lucrative consulting gig when I criticized the original proposal for its overproduction of Britrock and lack of attention to black artists and particularly disco. Still, they were interested in using the chart for their marketing proposal. Since they were going after big time corporate bucks, however, they didn’t want to use the original, which they thought of as . . . I think the word they used was “primitive.” Instead they created a computer generated, high tech version of the chart with circles and arrows and curlicues all over the place. Imagine Keith Haring working in an early draw program. I guess it worked though; their proposal got mega-funding.

The last time that I was brought in as a rock ‘n’ roll consultant to a major project was when Paul Allen was building the Experience Music Project in Seattle. His team of curators was interested in creating a huge sculpture in the middle of the building that depicted the “Roots and Branches” of rock ‘n’ roll — a  sort of three-dimensional version of the rock chart. Having gotten hold of a reproduction of my chart, they pulled me in to help develop the concept. Umpteen staff changes later, they still couldn’t agree on a concept, and the “Roots and Branches” idea was ultimately abandoned in favor of that gigantic guitar sculpture that now ascends dramatically to the second level. While it works well enough as an abstract sculpture, it provides little in the way of useful music history.

If WGBH didn’t like primitive and EMP couldn’t figure out how to incorporate information into its central sculpture, graphic design guru Edward Tufte touted the virtues of the chart on both counts. He decided to use the original 1974 version of the chart in his seminal graphics text Visual Explanations (1997). For those of you who have seen his road show, he uses the chart as an example of an effective design for capturing lots of information in a graphically pleasing way. “Your chart brings my book to a stop,” he once told me, “at least for those of us of a certain age!”

Los Angeles Artist Dave Muller was so taken by the chart that when he was asked to contribute an installation of his own choosing to the 2004 Whitney Biennial, the signature exhibition of New York’s Whitney Museum, he blew up the reproduction in Tufte’s book and made it the centerpiece of a 30 foot wall mural. Muller’s “appropriation” moved the chart into the realm of fine art. Muller has since mounted versions of this installation in Rome, London, Paris, Melbourne, Australia, and elsewhere, all without ever asking my permission. This has outraged many of my friends, who feel I should sue him, especially after he installed it again in 2008 in my backyard at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston. There it defined the public wall at the ICA’s entrance for almost all of 2008. I thought about suing, even talked to a lawyer, who assured me we could make big bucks. Ultimately, however, I decided that public access to information was more important than lining my pockets. I wonder if Muller knows how narrowly he dodged a bullet.

I included a copy of the original drawing as a two-page fold-out in the third edition of my book Rockin’ Out: Popular Music in the USA (2005). Also in 2005, I was approached by Marco Ferrari, a journalist working with the Italian magazine Focus, with a proposal “to compile in just one graphic timeline a (very rough) history of popular music, by genres,” using my chart as the basis for their work. The result: “River of Music,” a graphic that extends my original chart in a most engaging way to the year 2000. It appeared as an eight flap, full color, centerfold poster in the June 2005 issue of Focus.

For me, creating this chart was a labor of love that drew equally from my love of popular music (for content) and my attraction to the contours of “pinstriping” on customized 1950s cars (for graphic design). Along the way, I enjoyed the company and able assistance of many friends and acquaintances. I still remember the night that Dianne Dion (then Carasik) spilled Scotch on the original while surveying my placement of artists. When my calligraphy skills were not up to the task, my friend and former college roommate, the late Damon Rarey, stepped in with a major assist in the graphics department. (Damon was an accomplished artist in his own right; check out his legacy at www.rarey.com) For the 1978 update presented here, artist Jean Nicolazzo, my girlfriend at the time, took over Damon’s graphics role. When decisions about artists and categories seemed too complicated to manage, I was fortunate to have Sam Kopper, Allan MacDougall, Beverly Mier, Rory O’Connor, Robert Plattner, and Norm Weiner to talk to.

PopWaves picks up where The Genealogy of Pop Rock Music left off. This update could not have happened without the help of others. I am beholden to my crack team of advisors—Murray Forman, Wayne Marshall, Steve Waksman, and Elijah Wald—for their invaluable assistance in helping me to name styles and position artists. Hats off to Jan Boyd for her awesome calligraphy in the final rendering of artists’ names. And, finally, I am deeply indebted to Larry Gormley (who convinced me to take this on) for his pixel-level interventions and tasteful aesthetic choices in turning PopWaves into an appealing poster. All of the above should get some of the credit for these projects; I’ll take all of the complaints.

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

Thursday
Feb112016

Power Hungry: The Rise & Fall of Electricity Consumption

Power Hungry: The Rise & Fall of Electricity Consumption infographic

Power Hungry is an infographic timeline showing the dramatic rise in energy consumption for average American homes and the recent change to a decline from energy efficient technologies and home automation. From The Home Depot and published on Inhabitat.

While the U.S. still has a long way to go with alternative energy, a new statistic has given us incredible hope for the future. For the first time in a century, energy consumption in U.S. homes has dropped. Since electricity first entered the home in the 1910’s, residential energy use has been steadily on the rise, but thanks to new developments in alternative technologies, our dependence on electricity is becoming more sustainable than ever before. From small changes, like the rise of circuit breakers and panels, to huge innovations like solar panels and home automation, the road to a cleaner, greener future has been a long — but worthwhile — process. Check out this fascinating infographic below to see how energy consumption has changed over the years.

I love my Nest thermostat and Philips Hue lights!

Wednesday
Dec232015

Old vs. New Graphic Design

The Ultimate Battle- Old vs New- Graphic Design infographic

The New Media Company has created the infographic The Ultimate Battle: Old vs New Graphic Design to explore 8 different aspects of graphic design and compare how the methods have changed through the years.

Are you an old school or a newbie designer?  

If you have ever worked in a Design Studio you will have experienced the constant conflict between “Old” and “New” Design... 

You know the ones: "Quark is better than InDesign", "We didn't have the internet in my day." Here we take a look back at some of the tools that older designers used to use and compare them to todays modern technologies. 

Fun variation on the side-by-side comparison infographic style.

Thanks to Danielle for sending in the link!

Monday
Nov302015

A History of Communication

A History of Communication infographic

Communication is just as important to us today as it was in prehistoric times. The need hasn't changed much, but the way we accomplish it sure have! A History of Communication infographic from Thinking Phones divides our technological advances in communication into 4 eras, and then leaves us with the question of, "What's next?"

From the primitive use of smoke signals to today's cutting-edge contextual phone calls, humans have proved there are no boundaries when it comes to advancing the methods with which we communicate. Personally and professionally, we are constantly adopting new interactive technologies for the purpose of getting ahead – to make our lives simpler in a more convenient, intelligent way. Today's innovative communication platforms like text, voice, video, and complete cloud solutions easily enable this goal of efficient and effective contact. As our connectivity needs evolve and technology continues to expand, we humbly take a look back through the history of communication as we know it. 

Simple timeline that highlights the key milestones of communication at a very high level. Minimal detail and text keeps the design clean and easy-to-read.

Thanks to Stephanie for sending in the link!

Friday
Nov202015

Histography

Histography

Histography is a timeline created by Matan Stauber that visualizes every moment in history from Wikipedia as a steel ball. You can navigate the timeline by using a slider to determine what time period you would like to see. Then simply place the courser over a ball to read an event! It is very easy to navigate and tons of fun. Go to Histography to visit the full imteractive site.

Below is an article from Fast Co Design that explains the process in detail.

If every moment in human history was a single steel ball, Histography is like an 4-D Newton's Cradle, visualizing how all of these events bump up and knock up against each other on a 14-billion-year time frame. It's beautifully hypnotic—and impressively, it's all sourced from Wikipedia, which means that it keeps on updating itself.

Created by Matan Stauber, Histography is an interactive timeline spanning the Big Bang to whatever was in the news yesterday. It basically draws all historical events from Wikipedia, visualizing each as a black dot. You can click on each dot to get more information about the event it represents. These dots are then ordered chronologically from left to right, with simultaneous events being stacked vertically on top of each other. The result is that the Histography looks something like a pointillist sound wave, growing and shrinking according to how noisy a year, era, or epoch was.

There's a number of different ways you can browse Histography. The default view shows every historical event from Wikipedia's database at once, which you can then filter down by category: for example, by literature, politics, assassinations, and so on. But I think the 'Editorial Stories' view (accessible by clicking the Histography logo) is more interesting. It represents Wikipedia's database as a nearly endless spiral, which you can descend through scrolling, zooming right down to the Big Bang.

Found on FastCo Design

Wednesday
Jul292015

A History of Cell Phones and Cellphone Technology

A History of Cell Phones and Cellphone Technology infographic

Cellphone Technology has come a long way since the 80's. A History of Cell Phones and Cellphone Technology infographic from Lyca Mobile covers each generation of Cell Phones and adds some fun facts along the way. How many different generations have you owned?

This infographic covers the history of cell phones and cellphone technology from the 1st generation of cell phones in the 80’s to current high-speed 4G networks. 

There has been a lot of different cellphones since the 1980's; however, the infographic chose to separate the cellphones by broadband generations and then use just one easy to recognize cellphone from the time period. I also like how they stacked the uses for the cellphones. It was easy to recognize which features were new.

This design is purely informative. There's no call-to-action or asking the reader to do something with this information. However, they should have included the URL back to the infographic landing page so readers can find the full-size original design we people repost without the backlink to the Lyca website.

Thanks to David for sending in the link!

Monday
Jul132015

A Brief History of Open Source Code

A Brief History of Open Source Code infographic

Learn about the last 20 years of collaborative software development, language relationships, and the current state of the art with A Brief History of Open Source Code infographic. Kinvey, a company that helps its clients create mobile apps, published the infographic designed by Beutler Ink back in 2013. For more in-depth reading, check out this article at Read Write.

We were able to visualize the percentage of total commits in a given quarter for the top 16 programming languages from 1993 until today. We hope you’ll find this image—a provocative pattern of dips and spikes—to be as interesting as we do. It truly shows how dynamic the world of programming is. We’ve also included a few graphs on other interesting data points: total number of languages by year, average lines of code per commit, and tracking which languages influenced the development of others.

There is good use of colors and charts to tell the story of the 16 different source code languages. No numbers were needed to show the popularity of each language, only distances between the colors. The colors are similar, but not to the point where we would have trouble telling them apart. I like the gradual color gradient in the infographic. Too many different colors would make the graphic look too busy.  

Found on http://readwrite.com

Monday
May112015

History of the Batmobile

History of the Batmobile infographic

Batmobile Feature infographic

Comic Book Resources has added 3 Batmobile infographics to reveal some interesting trivia. In 75 years, there have been many different Batmobiles over the years. These infographics show past designs, a feature comparison between the 1966 and 2005 model, and final a cost comparison chart ranging from the $13,000s to $4.5 Million.

After 75 years of omnipresence, one can make a very strong case that the Batmobile is the most iconic automobile in all of pop culture history. Since Batman’s debut back in 1939’s “Detective Comics” #27, the caped crusader has always relied on a car — usually a stylish, feature-loaded one — to get him from his cave to crime scenes. As a crucial part of the Bat-mythos, the Batmobile — dubbed such in 1941’s “Detective Comics” #48 — has appeared in everything from comics and cartoons to films and video games. Wherever you see Batman, odds are the Batmobile is parked just a few blocks away. 

Zack Snyder Shares Partial Look at New Batmobile

With the Batmobile poised to make it’s eighth big-screen appearance in 2016’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” former CBR editor Steve Sunu set about researching the most intimidating car on DC Comics’ streets. Did you know that the original Batmobile was red? Or that the “Batman ‘66” version had an “emergency bat-turn parachute”? Or that you could buy almost three “Dark Knight” tumblers for the cost one one Lamborghini Veneno Roadster? Graphic artist and COMICS SHOULD BE GOOD contributor Sonia Harris brought all these facts together in the three infographics below, designed to get you up to speed on the fiction’s most notable car.

Peruse CBR’s three Batmobile infographics and broaden your knowledge of comics’ most famous car — and feel free to share and discusses these infographics on social media with #CBRBatmobile!

I would have put all three of these together into one infographic, but the smaller, separate designs might be easier to share in social media. In the Cost Comparison bar chart, I would like to see images or silhouettes of the different cars represented.

Thanks to Mike Wirth for sharing on Facebook.