Information Design Watch

February 20, 2012, 2:18 pm

Logo Evolution, the Forecast

By Henry Woodbury

A few years ago we posted  a history of technology company logos. Now, Stocklogos has taken a similar set of logos and created a future version of each. For fun. Here’s an example:

IBM Logo Trend

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Comments (3) | Filed under: Branding, Design

February 14, 2012, 9:47 am

Big Data in the House

By Henry Woodbury

The New York Times Sunday Review highlights Big Data. Big Data is that rapidly backfilling reservoir of web analytics and real-world sensor data. It is also a million rivulets of meandering incident, logged at its portages and tracked by its jetsam. The projected revolution starts with the ability to find meaning from it all:

Most of the Big Data surge is data in the wild — unruly stuff like words, images and video on the Web and those streams of sensor data. It is called unstructured data and is not typically grist for traditional databases.

But the computer tools for gleaning knowledge and insights from the Internet era’s vast trove of unstructured data are fast gaining ground. At the forefront are the rapidly advancing techniques of artificial intelligence like natural-language processing, pattern recognition and machine learning.

Unfortunately, the examples in the article are not inspiring. There is a difference between real scientific discovery and arbitrage opportunities and other than engineering-driven examples such as Google’s robot-driven cars, most of the focus is on arbitrage opportunities.

Case in point is the invocation of Moneyball. I am a big fan of baseball sabermetrics, and, among those paying attention, the work of Bill James and other analysts has revolutionized the way people evaluate baseball players. But this is work on the margins. It doesn’t trump the expression of true talent that anyone can spot, and it doesn’t void the enormous impact of chance. Hubris may be more dangerous than confusion:

Big Data has its perils, to be sure. With huge data sets and fine-grained measurement, statisticians and computer scientists note, there is increased risk of “false discoveries.” The trouble with seeking a meaningful needle in massive haystacks of data, says Trevor Hastie, a statistics professor at Stanford, is that “many bits of straw look like needles.”

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Comments (2) | Filed under: Sports, Technology

February 7, 2012, 10:11 am

The Tube as Watershed

By Henry Woodbury

Cartographer Daniel Huffman has taken Harry Beck’s map of the London Underground and applied it to river systems. The results are beautiful and illuminating:

Mississippi River Watershed

Huffman explains:

I wanted to create a series of maps that gives people a new way to look at rivers: a much more modern, urban type of portrayal. So I turned to the style of urban transit maps pioneered by Harry Beck in the 1930s for the London Underground. Straight lines, 45º angles, simple geometry. The result is more of an abstract network representation than you would find on most maps, but it’s also a lot more fun. The geography is intentionally distorted to clarify relationships. I think it helps translate the sort of visual language of nature into a more engineered one, putting the organic in more constructed terms. Not every line depicted is navigable, but all are important to the hydrological systems shown.

Part of a continuing series:

(Via Greg Pliska, LearnedLeague.)

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Comments (1) | Filed under: Art, Information Design, Maps