Information Design Watch

September 26, 2007, 12:34 pm

Map of Endangered Languages

By Lisa Agustin

Enduring Voices Map A joint effort between the National Geographic Society and the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, the Enduring Voices Project “strives to preserve endangered languages by identifying language hotspots — the places on our planet with the most unique, poorly understood, or threatened indigenous languages — and documenting the languages and cultures within them.”

The narrative on the National Geographic site provides some statistics to describe the gravity of the situation (“Every 14 days a language dies”), but it’s the project’s interactive map that is particularly engaging. The map offers two levels of exploring the extinction threat levels. A bird’s eye view of the Earth shows the four levels of hot spots globally, while clicking on an individual location provides more detail into the history and uniqueness of the language and the specific nature of the threat.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Maps, Visual Explanation

September 23, 2007, 1:39 pm

Two Intriguing Flash Games

By Henry Woodbury

Over the last few weeks we’ve been distracted by two unexpectedly similar games, Gravity Pods and, at the opposite end of the attitude spectrum, PBS Kids Cyperchase Inventor’s Workshop (free registration required).

See the connection?

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Web Interface Design

September 13, 2007, 2:41 pm

Mindmapping Wikipedia

By Lisa Agustin

WikimindmapWhile Wikipedia is rich in content, approaching a given topic can seem overwhelming. The visual design for each entry steers users to approach the information in a linear way, top to bottom. In addition, the interconnections between subject areas are difficult to grasp at first glance, since hyperlinks to other subjects are found only by reading the text. Wikimindmap uses the concept of mindmapping to make researching any topic on Wikipedia more efficient and approachable. After running a search on their desired topic, users can size up a topic and what it covers at a glance, including crosslinks into related topics. Clicking on a node’s (+) icon lets users expand that node, while clicking on the green arrow icon reorients their view to focus on one of the crosslinked topics. Interestingly, if an entry contains many crosslinks, these will dominate the visualization, suggesting to the uninitiated that an entry is more about hypertext links than core subject content.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Visual Explanation

September 5, 2007, 10:21 am

Maps, Labels, Politics

By Henry Woodbury

The disputed territory of KashmirThe Economist‘s Asia section offers a cautionary tale in the drawing of maps:

Almost any cartographic representation of the continent [Asia] is bound to upset some individual reader or government. Alas, we use maps not to portray the world as it ought to be, or even as we would like it to be, but as it is.

Cartographers, like information designers, seek to visualize accurate data. But what if the data is contentious? Read to the end to find the easy way out.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Current Events, Maps