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

Infographic Design

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Consulting | Data Visualizations

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Tuesday
Oct252016

Earth's Temperature Timeline

A Timeline of Earth's Average Temperature infographic

A Timeline of Earth's Average Temperature is another great data visualization design by Randall Monroe at XKCD.com! Real data and a humorous take on historical events!

A Timeline of Earth's Average Temperature since the last ice age glaciation. When people say "The climate has changed before," these are the kinds of changes they're talking about.

It's a long design on purpose. That's what drives the context of the data so strongly. 22,000 years of small changes and major historical events and then "Oh shoot..."

Found on FlowingData

Friday
Oct142016

A House Divided: The Rise of Political Partisanship

The Rise of Partisanship in the House of Representatives is a video infographic showing network maps and animating their change over time. Business Insider published this great data visualization video earlier this year.

 

This 60-second animation shows how divided Congress has become over the last 60 years

It's news to no one that Congress has had a hard time passing legislation in recent years. Some have even asserted that partisanship in Washington has reached historic levels. But how do we put the current divide in perspective? A group of researchers recently tried to quantify and visualize House partisanship in a paper published in PLoS ONE.

Produced by Alex Kuzoian. Original visualization by Mauro Martino.

To understand what is being displayed:

  • Each dot represents a member of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • Connection lines represent when two members voted the same way
  • Connection line thickness represents how often they voted together during each 2-year period
  • Dot size based on the total number of connections
  • Color represents political party

A poster version of this design is also available on Mauro Martino's site:

Thanks to Sue Miller for sharing on Facebook!

Wednesday
Oct122016

How Much Warmer Was Your City in 2015?

How Much Warmer Was Your City in 2015

This is a cool interactive data visualization from the NY Times: How Much Warmer Was Your City in 2015?

Scientists declared that 2015 was Earth’s hottest year on record. In a database of 3,116 cities provided by AccuWeather, about 90 percent of them were warmer than normal. Enter your city in the field below to see how much warmer it was last year.

Temperature and precipitation data are provided by AccuWeather. The normal range of temperature is calculated by normalizing the weather from 1981 to 2010.

Data for some cities are incomplete. When actual or historical temperatures were missing, the corresponding bar is not shown for that day. The data presented here are as they were recorded on Jan. 22, 2016.

By K.K. Rebecca Lai, with additional work by Gregor Aisch

You can choose your city (or a city close to you) from the 3,116 cities included in the data. For many cities, you will see the 2015 daily temperature ranges in comparison to the normal temperature range and the historical high and low record temperatures. If historical data is not available, you will only see the comparison to the normal temperature range.

 

Thursday
Oct062016

7 Times Technology Almost Destroyed The World

7 Times Technology Almost Destroyed The World infographic

7 Times Technology Almost Destroyed The World is a scary infographic from Hudman.

The importance of thoroughly testing new technology is highlighted in this infographic. We take a light-hearted, yet terrifying look at how close the human race has come to destroying all life on planet earth.

Fun, engaging information! From a design perspective, there's way too much text in this infographic, and the font size is too small to easily read. So much text, it will probably turn away many readers before they read any of the information.

Simplify, simplify, simplify! Shorter descriptions and larger icons or illustrations will draw in readers to engage with the infographic.

Friday
Aug262016

Animal Migrations In Motion

Animal Migrations In Motion

Animal Migrations In Motion is a fantastic animated & interactive data visualization of the predicted migration patterns of almost 3,000 species in North and South America as our climate changes.

As climate change alters 
habitats and disrupts ecosystems, where will
 animals move to survive?
 And will human development prevent them from getting there?

This map shows the average direction mammals, birds, and amphibians need to move to track hospitable climates as they shift across the landscape.

Researchers from University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy modeled potential habitat for 2954 species using climate change projections and the climatic needs of each species.

This map was created by Dan Majka, who works for The Nature Conservancy's North America Region science team.

This visualization would not have been possible without the incredible prior work of the hint.fm wind map, cambecc's earth wind map, and Chris Helm's adaptation of cambecc's code.

It's mesmerising to watch! Just like some of the prior designs that inspired this one listed above. It's interactive, so you can move and zoom the part of the map being shown.

The description does leave a few unanswered questions. For instance:

  • What time period is being shown here?
  • What predicted climate changes and assumptions are being used?
  • What species are shown and how were they chosen?

Found on FlowingData!

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!

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!