Information Design Watch

July 29, 2010, 12:26 pm

Historic New England’s Collections Online

By Kirsten Robinson

The Portsmouth Herald has published an article about Historic New England’s new web site and online collections project, for which Dynamic Diagrams provided web strategy, information architecture and design services, as well as project management for the site’s development.

You can view the web site at www.historicnewengland.org or dive right into searching and browsing the online collections — full of photos, artifacts, and reference materials having to do with 400 years of New England History.

We’re currently in the final stage of the project, conducting usability tests on the new site.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Dynamic Diagrams News, Information Architecture, Scholarly Publishing, Usability, User Experience, Web Interface Design

July 28, 2010, 9:01 am

No Explanation Needed

By Henry Woodbury

Charlatan, Martyr, Hustler by Joey Roth

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Art, Charts and Graphs, Illustration, Information Design

July 27, 2010, 3:05 pm

The Asynchronous Barista

By Henry Woodbury

Say you’re a software engineer trying to explain asynchronous processing to people with a general interest in software. You might use Starbucks as an example. Over to you, Gregor Hohpe:

Starbucks, like most other businesses is primarily interested in maximizing throughput of orders. More orders equals more revenue. As a result they use asynchronous processing. When you place your order the cashier marks a coffee cup with your order and places it into the queue. The queue is quite literally a queue of coffee cups lined up on top of the espresso machine. This queue decouples cashier and barista and allows the cashier to keep taking orders even if the barista is backed up for a moment. It allows them to deploy multiple baristas in a Competing Consumer scenario if the store gets busy.

This is a quirky article that introduces a number of programming concepts in an accessible and entertaining way. Hohpe throws in the occasional deep dive — as with the “Competing Consumer” link in the quote — but even there the analogy helps you guess where such a link might take you.

Analogy speaks to shared experience. It provides a way — one way — to turn abstract concepts into visual explanation. I can almost see the coffee cups lined up in front of me.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Creativity, Implementation, Language, Technology

July 22, 2010, 9:01 am

Fastball, Cutter, Slider

By Henry Woodbury

In an appreciation of New York Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera, the New York Times has put together an impressive animation that shows how he pitches. Even if you are not a baseball fan, this is worth a look for its artistry and integrity. By modeling and animating a season’s worth of data the visualization connects process — how Rivera throws the ball — with outcomes — a scatter plot of where his pitches cross the plate.

One highlight of the visualization is the comparison of three pitches — fastball, cutter, slider. Each is distinguished by a different spin, created by a different grip and release.

Still from Mariano Rivera Animation

Credit for the visualization goes to Graham Roberts, Shan Carter, and Joe Ward.

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Comments (1) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Charts and Graphs, Sports, Visual Explanation

July 19, 2010, 11:11 am

Review, Reuse, Inflate

By Henry Woodbury

One of our favorite design interns, Jonathan O’Conner is on to bigger things. Much bigger.

Billboard Balloon

Last summer Jonathan helped us out with his 3D modeling skills on a 21 inch monitor. This summer, with a team of fellow industrial designers, he is figuring out how to reuse giant plastic billboard sheets.

Check out their blog for a look at their creative process (the multi-colored post-it notes look familiar), brainstorms, technical investigations, and prototypes.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Creativity, Dynamic Diagrams News, Prototyping, Technology

July 13, 2010, 3:20 pm

Information is Light

By Henry Woodbury

Look down from the sky at a city at night and it falls into two dimensions. In simple dark and light patterns you can see roadways, population centers, and other aspects of urban development.

Inspired by the view from a plane, data visualization engineer Doug McCune decided to use the appearance of city lights at night to present spatial data (just “for fun” he emphasizes). Using publicly available crime and city planning data, McCune has created a number of beautiful visualizations.  For example, the image below shows all the trees planted by the city of San Francisco since 1990:

Trees by the City of San Francisco since 1990 by Doug McCune

Click through to see more examples, all linked to larger versions.

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

July 10, 2010, 10:27 am

Boomtown

By Henry Woodbury

At FlowingData, Nathan Yau’s popular visualization on the growth of Walmart recently got an update — “now with 100% more Sam’s Club” he titles it, tongue in cheek. The growth map shows the number of new store openings for Walmart — and Sam’s Club — from 1962 through 2010. The data is just for the United States. The animation reveals both a pattern and rate of growth as Walmart starts at a single location, becomes a regional chain, then expands to the U.S.’s Northeastern and Western population corridors. Zoom out (the plus/minus in the bottom left corner are zoom controls) and you will see the firm’s entry into Puerto Rico in the early ’70s and to Alaska and Hawaii in the late ’90s.

The data does not include store closings, a point that comes out in the comments of the first link. Designer-statisticians can only work with the data they have.

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Comments (2) | Filed under: Charts and Graphs, Information Design, Maps, Visual Explanation