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A Makeover For Maps

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Climate Centrals Surging Seas project highlights land lost to a rising ocean, not land that remains, a change of visual emphasis.

Graphic designers are experimenting with new ways of presenting data that can better display the large amounts of information people are downloading.

Credit: Stamen Design

Graphic designers are experimenting with new ways of presenting data, to better display the huge volume of information that people are downloading over a range of devices.

Animation and three-dimensionality, for example, can help improve a user's understanding of a map, says Stamen Design CEO Eric Rodenbeck. "It doesn’t work if it's not moving," Rodenbeck says. "It doesn’t work if you can’t touch it." Animation in charts of rapidly changing data can offer a more insightful depiction of information via shapes on a map that expand and contract, changing colors in bar charts, or line positions that rise or fade.

Stamen Design developed a graphic for the NASDAQ index that enables users to manipulate results to view stock trading in increments as brief as a microsecond or over an entire day.

Meanwhile, former Google designer Douglas van der Molen created software that uses an inference engine to harmonize the various ways that data are recorded, determines a common representation, and select a useful data framework such as an unmarked map of the United States.

General Electric's big data center also is focused on data presentation, with an emphasis on "semantic zooms" that provide varying levels of specificity depending on the detail of the data analysis.

From The New York Times
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Abstracts Copyright © 2014 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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