Archive for the ‘infosthetics’ Category

Google Maps as Social Commentary

I’m a little late to the party, but I’m loving this series of Google Maps inspired graphics from Christoph Niemann that oscillate between social commentary to pure whimsical imaginations:

Many more here!


Health Supplement Effectiveness

We’ve often heard about the latest health supplements – how having this particular element or food or vitamin or extract or natural herb or this or that can drastically improve an aspect of our health. David McCandless and Andy Perkins take it upon themselves to try to sort through exactly what is proven useful vs. their popularity and put it down to a bubbly chart above.

Navigate here to see the bigger and animated version!

Radiographs of Trauma

While the incidents leading to each of the picture in the above set is probably a traumatizing one, there is still very much inherent (artistic?) beauty in the radiograph images, with a brief caption explaining the cause of each image over at this Flickr set by Surfactant. Check it out!

Learning Chinese Characters Through Illustrations

The Chinese language is composed of characters that have descended from sets of pictograms – stylized, simpflied drawings of the mountains, the sky, etc. into a few key strokes. With this as foundation it grows on to a full set of thousands of character.

It was thus quite interesting for me when I came upon Christoph Niemann’s “The Pet Dragon” work, which tells the story about, well I suppose, a pet dragon. However, unlike other story books, the illustration blends itself with Chinese characters, helping children learn and associate those (potentially) unfamiliar characters with something much more easy to understand – a picture:



I thought the form-association between the characters and the illustration makes a great bridge for Chinese-language learners, and certainly less boring than simple rote learning (plus, you get a free story to ride along!).

The World of 100


We have seen quite a few “if the earth was 100 people” type of illustrations, typically to make us realize the actual proportions of various metrics if we talk globally rather than our typical Western-centric impressions.

Here’s yet another set. Graphic artist Toby Wong used simple vector graphics to communicate the various metrics about the global population through a series of posters.

What does 1 Trillion look like?

With the recent financial crisis and the responses by US government to inject a trillion here and another trillion there, it may seem like a trillion is just a slightly bigger number that we’ve become used to. PageTutor helps us visualize the difference –



$1 million


$1 billion


$1 trillion (the pallets are double-stacked)


So…a trillion is really a lot of money! And, personally I was quite surprised at how small a $1 million pile can be – I’ve always have this image of at least a duffel-bag full of bills to qualify for a million – perhaps just influenced by the typical cop-and-robber movies.

What is Information? What is Architecture?

Nicely produced short videos explaining what is “information” and what is “architecture”:

Created by Maya Design.

Seeing Maps Everywhere

We certainly have a tendency to recognize familiar shapes from all actually-random sources: we see faces or creatures in the clouds, we imagine that there is indeed a divine intervention when Virgin Mary appeared on toasts; and now – “cartocacoethes – a mania, uncontrollable urge, compulsion or itch to see maps everywhere”:


UK, Africa and Australia? Further elaboration here.

[via infosthetics]

Google Flu Trendspotting


Google Insights have been available publicly for some time. Users can enter multiple search terms and Google will report the search trends for these terms over time, and correlate it with major news articles, geographic source of search. It was typically associated with entertainment (“Paris Hilton”, “Britney Spears”) variety, or perhaps political campaigning (“Joe the plumber”, “chartered school” etc.).

More recently though the underlying technology of mining the gazillions of Google searches each day was tuned towards a more social-good topic by (the charity arm of Google). One of the examples are tracking flu trends.

CDC [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] uses a variety of methods to track influenza across the United States each year. One method relies on a network of more than 1500 doctors who see 16 million patients each year. The doctors keep track of the percentage of their patients who have an influenza-like illness, also known as an “ILI percentage”. CDC and state health departments collect and aggregate this data each week, providing a good indicator of overall flu activity across the United States.

So why bother with estimates from aggregated search queries? It turns out that traditional flu surveillance systems take 1-2 weeks to collect and release surveillance data, but Google search queries can be automatically counted very quickly. By making our flu estimates available each day, Google Flu Trends may provide an early-warning system for outbreaks of influenza.

Here you can see the comparison of the results – it does seem like there’s a strong correlation between the actual medical report compiled by the CDC and Google’s terms. Could this be extended to a whole range of applications – epidemic outbreak, humanitarian situations, etc.?


Go to the article for a more detailed explanation.


Branding itself as ‘Studies of Desire’, hundreds of people were asked how much they like being caressed on different parts of the body, and how exciting it is to touch different places on their lovers. No surprising results here – though I thought the visualization was quite nicely done.

There are quite a few other studies by the same people – for instance, studying which body part gets mentioned most in popular songs; the preferred ‘hairstyle’ around men’s nipples; etc. Head on over to Fleshmap if you’re interested – though understandably, there will be some nudity as you explore within the site.