Blog » infographics
- August 19, 2010BY JORDAN SALINGER
Flint Hahn's Burning Man infographic. (Click to view larger.)
For some it is a yearly spiritual revival providing an emotionally charged respite from reality; for others it simply means they are able to eat brunch without standing in line. The mark left by Burning Man on San Franciscans and this city is undoubtedly immense, but is hard to truly measure. The same can be said about the impact on Black Rock City, Burning Man's yearly home, but this stunning infographic provides an all-encompassing perspective on the event.
Over the course of two weeks, from conceptualization to final graphic design, Flint Hahn, a six-year veteran of the event, put together this infographic. He gathered the data needed from post-event after reports on the Burning Man web site, contacting various departments in the organization, the Nevada Bureau of Land Management, NASA historical astronomy data, online population sources, Flickr, Wikipedia, among a variety of other sources. Regardless of the amount of data collected, Flint was well aware that displaying the true essence of Burning Man through data could never be achieved. Flint stated, "This is an event based on personal experiences. I could produce many interesting statistical trends, eye-catching illustrations, and visual charts, but it would never capture what the event is. It's a common question with unlimited answers, "What is Burning Man?" If anything, this infographic may be the antithesis of what Burning Man is." As we at SPUR found out this past spring when we hosted Burning Man's founder, Larry Harvey, some questions are better left unanswered.
To find out more about the design process I asked him about the most challenging elements of the graphic. According to Flint, "Between the Temples and the Man with its accompanying base, those two sets of illustrations were the most challenging facets of this poster. " Datasets were not made available, or may not even exist for those projects. Also, limitations based on design feasibility, budget, and location made for significant differences between the original renderings and the ultimate result. Flint improvised by "determining the respective sizes for the temples due to the nature of this event being highly documented in photographic form. Using long shots of the temple with people nearby, one may base the structure's height by calculating the average height of the people in relation to the scale of the structure."
This graphic is, however, built upon hard data — ticket price, number of attendees, etc. In 2008, for example, $771,000 was spent on portable toilets alone. When first glancing at this graphic it is easy to spot the decline in attendance, overall budget, and several other important indicators last year. While it is unclear if the changes in pricing structure can counteract the lagging economy, for those out on the playa, these numbers are largely irrelevant.
Number of Theme Camps - 746 (2008)
Total expenditure — $12,317,000 (2009)
Theme in 1999 — Nebulous Entity
- July 26, 2010BY JORDAN SALINGER
The power of data to destroy preconceived notions seems to drive Hans Rosling, co-founder of Gapminder. My first experience with the website was in the spring of 2009 when H1N1 hysteria reached its apex. When a friend sent over the link, I thought I was looking at a simple scatter plot. I had neglected to notice the play button at the bottom of the screen -- an animated feature which shows change over time. In this case, the graph compared the number of news articles about tuberculosis and H1N1 to the number of reported cases of each disease. Obviously, in the spring of 2009, H1N1 had become a disproportionately large news story.
Purchased by Google in 2007, Gapminder pushes data forward in three ways: it liberates long-buried information by publishing the available data; the animation feature makes the data digestible for a significantly larger audience; and most importantly, it encourages participation through its search function, a seemingly common theme in the Datablog.
The recently introduced Gapminder Desktop allows users to both access the information without an internet connection and save their favorite graphs (the current version comes with more than 600 preloaded graphs). A personal favorite is one that monitors per capita CO2 emissions. Before we assail China for their recent upsurge, it should be noted that until recently the US had held that dubious distinction since since 1903.
Trinidad and Tobago was the 1944 world leader in per capita CO2 emissions. Free SPUR membership to the first person who tells me how this could possibly be true.
- July 7, 2010BY JORDAN SALINGER
Crime and unemployment: two things cities consistently battle with, but rarely like to talk about. While it may seem like these two issues are linked, with crime rising out of necessity, GOOD's recent infographic shows that a positive correlation may not exist. Working with Part and Parcel, a small design firm in New York, GOOD's Transparency graphic confronts this issue in a very direct manner. Using the FBI's crime data going back to 1989, this graphic sorts crime into two categories: violent and property crime.
"¨"¨[Image Credit: GOOD Magazine, Part & Parcel]
Stand-Out Facts: "¨"¨
As unemployment rose from 5.8 to 9.3 from 2008 to 2009, property crime dropped 6%"¨"¨
Violent crime has dropped 44% from 1991 to 2009"¨"¨
This infographic succeeds in describing a few complex problems and dispels the notion that as unemployment rises, crime would inevitably increase. In its simplicity, however, the graphic fails to provide alternative explanations for the general trend of dwindling crime since 1989. While it's a great snapshot of the issue, the graphic should not be a substitute for further analysis.
Recently, crime data in San Francisco has become publicly accessible through the city's DataSF website. Doug McCune, a local blogger, took the crime data from 2009 and presented it in a captivating and unique form - elevation maps. As additional cities choose to release this type of information, we look forward to the creative ways citizens will use this data.
- May 13, 2010BY JORDAN SALINGER
Data. The mere mention of the word can overwhelm, baffle, and cause general disorientation. In its raw state, or as displayed in traditional forms such as pie charts and bar graphs, data has a tendency to elicit these negative reactions. This confusion occurs when the reader is unable to decipher what story is being told, or why they are being told it. Given appropriate visual context and intuitive design, data has the power to modify behavior and influence the way we confront societal problems.
SPUR's latest series will analyze visual representations of data reflecting patterns in urban life, ranging from infographics to animation, powerpoints to histograms. Not all will be good, as we also can learn from clumsy design and ambiguous data. All the graphics, however, will question why we live the way we do and explore the underlying forces on our behavior.
Earlier this week, the DC-based Brookings Institute released a "State of the Metropolitan America: On the front lines of demographic transformation." This extensive report details "the continued growth and outward expansion of our population, its ongoing racial and ethnic diversification, the rapid aging on the horizon, our increasing but selective higher educational attainment, and the intensified income polarization experienced by our workers and families." To go along with the nearly 170-page document, Brookings provided this data-intensive graphic:
This graphic allows tremendous user interactivity. The user selects from a criteria of demographics, time frames, locations, and other indicators.
City with the greatest percent of population between 15-24 years old:
Provo, UT Metro Area (40%)
City with the greatest percent of population 65 and up:
Sarasota, FL Metro Area (26.8%)
Percent of SF Metro Area workers who commute by public transportation:
14.4 % (2nd in the nation)
City with greatest percent of workers who commute by driving alone:
Youngstown, OH Metro Area (85%)