Information Design Watch

June 30, 2009, 1:00 pm

How Tall is the Green Monster?

By Henry Woodbury

Flip Flop Fly Ball is Craig Robinson’s collection of “baseball infographics”:

Essentially, this site is what I’d have been doing when I was 12 years old had the Internet and Photoshop been available to me in the eighties.

What stands out for me from this collection is Robinson’s ability to ask good questions — intriguing or amusing or both.

In some of the work, the question is more the point than the answer. What if baseball players literally stole bases? For more complex questions Robinson often produces just a well-drawn pie or bar chart. But occasionally, Robinson combines question, data, and visual idea into a smart visual explanation that goes beyond that.

For example, the left field wall in Fenway Park is 37 feet and two inches tall. And how tall is that?

Thumbnail: Green Monster

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Charts and Graphs, Infographics, Information Design, Sports, Visual Explanation

June 29, 2009, 2:08 pm

Sunny Days Over 3D Cities

By Henry Woodbury

The Chinese firm Edushi (“E-city”) has created 3D models of over 40 Chinese cities, including Hong Kong:

Edushi Hong Kong

Google Map-like pan, zoom, and search features make it easy to explore these candy landscapes, until one reaches the edge of the model and the world either fades or flattens — as in the screen capture of Guangzhou below.

edushi-guangzhou

Oddly, the Edushi artists generally point North 45 degrees off vertical (counterclockwise). This means that the 3D maps don’t align with common roadmap or satellite views.

(via PopSci.com)

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Comments (2) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Illustration, Maps, Visual Explanation, Web Interface Design

June 15, 2009, 12:17 pm

Erudition Analytics

By Henry Woodbury

There’s more to data mining than click-through rates and advertising revenues. This Zachary Seward article at the Nieman Journalism Lab (via Althouse) explains how the New York Times examines user behavior as it relates to their style. Using a Web analytics report of words most often looked-up by Times readers, deputy news editor Philip Corbett sent out the memo to reporters and columnists:

Our choice of words should be thoughtful and precise, and we should never talk down to readers. But how often should even a Times reader come across a word like hagiography or antediluvian or peripatetic, especially before breakfast?

Remember, too, that striking and very specific words can become wan and devalued through overuse. Consider apotheosis, which we’ve somehow managed to use 18 times so far this year. It literally means “deification, transformation into a divinity.” An extended meaning is “a glorified ideal.” But in some of our uses it seems to suggest little more than “a pretty good example.” Most recently, we’ve said critics view the Clinton health-care plan as “the apotheosis of liberal, out-of-control bureaucracy-building,” and we’ve described cut-off shorts as “that apotheosis of laissez-faire wear.”

So what do we say if someone really is transformed into a god?

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Language, Technology, User Experience

June 2, 2009, 3:30 pm

Some Ideas about Elegance

By Henry Woodbury

Guy Kawasaki interviews Matthew E. May on the concept of elegance. May, author of In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing, speaks of elegance as a business concept, rather than specifically as a design concept.

May’s essential insight is that elegance is only achieved when a thing is powerful as well as simple. I’m not enamored with a lot of his examples (Sodoku, charging hippos), as he seems to dwell on the simple. The following example is more provocative:

Chess masters understand the nature of complexity—that it is part of the game, and it’s why they play it. The challenge and thrill lies in the endless search for ways to manage and exploit those complexities. Make it SEEM blazingly simple. That’s elegance. Complexity isn’t the enemy to a chessmaster—without it they’d be playing checkers.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Books and Articles, Business

June 2, 2009, 1:08 pm

The Break of the Curve

By Henry Woodbury

Here is a very cool optical illusion — with an equally interesting (to me) real-world example.

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