Information Design Watch

October 31, 2006, 2:07 pm

Computer Culture

By Henry Woodbury

Computers may still be binary calculating machines, but their social impact is profound. According to a New York Times report on the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board “2016″ symposium, computers have become so integrated into scientific and popular culture as to drive qualitative changes in how people interact — and how social scientiest can study them:

The new social-and-technology networks that can be studied include e-mail patterns, buying recommendations on commercial Web sites like Amazon, messages and postings on community sites like MySpace and Facebook, and the diffusion of news, opinions, fads, urban myths, products and services over the Internet. Why do some online communities thrive, while others decline and perish? What forces or characteristics determine success? Can they be captured in a computing algorithm?

Don’t miss the “a Web Site as a Living Organism” diagram linked to the article. The format is a fairly typical node map, but adroit display of multiple properties of each node makes for an engaging graphic.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/31/science/31essa.html (free registration required)

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Comments (1) | Filed under: Current Events, Technology, Visual Explanation

October 25, 2006, 2:32 pm

The Informational Power of Scale Models

By Henry Woodbury

Jeff Russell’s Starship Dimensions web site presents visual information of a single type, the scale model. The power of this approach is its universal applicability. Note Russell’s disclaimer:

This site is only intended to compare the actual physical dimensions of the starships herein, and makes no claims as to any other aspect of these ships (firepower, speed, etc.).

In displaying the models, Russell makes some elegant design decisions. The starships (and other objects) are grouped by size, on background-gridded pages scaled from 1m/10px, to the truly enormous 500,000km/pixel. The largest models on each page reoccur on the next, helping define a visual continuum. The site also allows you to drag and drop images on each page (Internet Explorer only), making direct comparisons that much easier.

Maybe I’m old school, but the most entertaining comparison for me was this one:

Boeing 747 vs. Orion Comparison (from Starship Dimensions)

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Visual Explanation

October 11, 2006, 9:36 am

Science and NSF Announce 2006 Visualization Challenge Winners

By Lisa Agustin

The results are in: Science magazine and the National Science Foundation recently announced the winners of this year’s Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. Categories for competition include photography, illustration, infographics, and multimedia (interactive and non-interactive). The winning visualizations offer new perspectives on a variety of subjects: mathematical surfaces rendered as glass objects, how air traffic looks at night, cellular dynamics, the vasculature of conjoined twins, and the science behind daVinci’s work.

According to Felice Frankel, a senior research fellow at Harvard University and one of this year’s judges, good visualization plays a key role in advancing scientific thought:

The science community needs to discuss the enormous contribution good visual translations can bring to both communication and advancing the thinking behind the science. Critically thinking about what makes an honest and successful representation and raising our standards can only be beneficial for the science community as a whole.

The site includes a slide show of this year’s winners as well as links to results from previous years.

Materials Informatics slide

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Visual Explanation

October 5, 2006, 9:20 am

Photographs by Piotr Kaczmarek

By Henry Woodbury

The new issue of New, the “Irregular Literary Poetry Avant Garde Art Magazine” edited by Dynamic Diagrams’ founder, Paul Kahn, features photographs by our Creative Director Piotr Kaczmarek:

I chose the leafless trees as a subject because I was interested in a clear visual representation of a complex structure; starting from the high level of defined spaces between tree canopies, then the obvious organization of branches, and patterns of twigs. I like the drawing-like line qualities of the subject. What the collages are after is to reveal the fractal nature of these organic shapes.

Leafless Trees 5.jpg

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Design, Dynamic Diagrams News, Photography

October 4, 2006, 3:53 pm

Visual History

By Henry Woodbury

The Maps of War Web site currently features an animated map of the Middle East that asks and answers the question “Who has conquered the Middle East over the course of world events? See 5,000 years of history in 90 seconds…”

Roman Empire replacing Greek and Macedonian Empire

In its final sequence, the entire history is replayed in very fast time with the cities of Jerusalem and Baghdad as anchor points. The replay evokes a theme: impermanence, instability, an unknown future.

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Comments (1) | Filed under: Current Events, Maps, Visual Explanation