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Posts Tagged ‘infographics

“Pop music has been exhausted”*…

 

 

… and so it becomes the subject of art.

A year ago, local artist Elle Luna challenged artists from around the world with her “100-Day Project,” an idea with a simple premise: do the same thing every day for a hundred days — draw a doodle, write a poem, whatever — and document the results.

San Francisco–based designer Katrina McHugh responded by making infographics based on popular song lyrics that reference the natural world, mirroring the style of vintage encyclopedias she inherited from her grandfather. The project, titled “100 Days of Lyrical Natural Sciences,” is a gorgeous and hilarious exercise in taking metaphor too literally…

Try your hand at identifying the songs in question at “Classic Pop Songs, Reimagined as Infographics.”

* Brian Wilson

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As we tap our toes, we might spare a thought for Cabell “Cab” Calloway III; he died on this date in 1994.  A master of scat singing and led one of the United States’ most popular big bands from the start of the 1930s to the late 1940s, regularly performing at the Cotton Club in Harlem.  His band featured performers including trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Adolphus “Doc” Cheatham, saxophonists Ben Webster and Leon “Chu” Berry, New Orleans guitar ace Danny Barker, and bassist Milt Hinton.  His “Minnie the Moocher” was the first jazz record to sell 1 million copies.

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Written by LW

November 18, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid”*…

 

On a theme we’ve visited before, an interactive map of the influences at play in the development of the musical genres we enjoy, from the general…

… to the specific…

… with navigational aids and background, to boot.

Explore at MusicMap. (And for a complementary take, try Every Noise at Once.)

* Frank Zappa

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As we hum along, we might recall that it was on this date in 1966 that The Shangri-Las, Johnny Tillotson, and “Many More”– including a band called “the Castiles” (which featured vocalist Bruce Springsteen) performed at the Surf ‘n See Club in Seabright, New Jersey.

From the July 1966 issue of “Mod Magazine,” a Jersey Shore teen publication

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Written by LW

July 10, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Representation plus interpretation to develop an idea”*…

 

William Playfair’s trade-balance time-series chart, published in his Commercial and Political Atlas, 1786

We’ve celebrated before the formative contributions of Florence Nightingale to data visualization; as noted then, she was building on the earlier work of William Playfair.  But as as Playfair was pioneering new ways to communicate complex data, he was himself building on prior efforts…

The idea of visualizing data is old: After all, that’s what a map is—a representation of geographic information—and we’ve had maps for about 8,000 years. But it was rare to graph anything other than geography. Only a few examples exist: Around the 11th century, a now-anonymous scribe created a chart of how the planets moved through the sky. By the 18th century, scientists were warming to the idea of arranging knowledge visually. The British polymath Joseph Priestley produced a “Chart of Biography,” plotting the lives of about 2,000 historical figures on a timeline. A picture, he argued, conveyed the information “with more exactness, and in much less time, than it [would take] by reading.”

Still, data visualization was rare because data was rare. That began to change rapidly in the early 19th century, because countries began to collect—and publish—reams of information about their weather, economic activity and population. “For the first time, you could deal with important social issues with hard facts, if you could find a way to analyze it,” says Michael Friendly, a professor of psychology at York University who studies the history of data visualization. “The age of data really began.”

An early innovator was the Scottish inventor and economist William Playfair. As a teenager he apprenticed to James Watt, the Scottish inventor who perfected the steam engine. Playfair was tasked with drawing up patents, which required him to develop excellent drafting and picture-drawing skills. After he left Watt’s lab, Playfair became interested in economics and convinced that he could use his facility for illustration to make data come alive.

“An average political economist would have certainly been able to produce a table for publication, but not necessarily a graph,” notes Ian Spence, a psychologist at the University of Toronto who’s writing a biography of Playfair. Playfair, who understood both data and art, was perfectly positioned to create this new discipline…

The Surprising History of the Infographic.”

* Francesco Franchi, defining inforgraphics

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As we make it clear, we might note that today begins National Canned Luncheon Meat Week, “celebrated” the first week of July each year.

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“Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future”*…

 

From MIT’s Media Lab and it Pantheon Project, an interactive mapping tool that let’s one visualize the history of cultural production.

You were not born with the ability to fly, cure disease or communicate at long distances, but you were born in a society that endows you with these capacities. These capacities are the result of information that has been generated by humans and that humans have been able to embed in tangible and digital objects.

This information is all around you. It is the way in which the atoms in an airplane are arranged or the way in which your cell-phone whispers dance instructions to electromagnetic waves.

Pantheon is a project celebrating the cultural information that endows our species with these fantastic capacities. To celebrate our global cultural heritage we are compiling, analyzing and visualizing datasets that can help us understand the process of global cultural development. Dive in, visualize, and enjoy.

Pantheon allows one to select a time period, then see the results sorted by place of origin (as in the chart above) or by profession, and provides a ranked listing of people.

It’s all fascinating, but the “professional” sort is especially telling, as Kottke observes:

Up until the Renaissance, the most well-known people in the world were mostly politicians and religious figures, with some writers and philosophers thrown in for good measure.  Starting with the Renaissance through the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, politicians, writers, painters, and composers become more prominent.  For the past 50 years, athletes and entertainers dominate the list, with footballers making up almost a third of the most known. (If you only go back to 1990, actors dominate.)

Politicians rate slightly behind tennis players (but ahead of pornographic actors) and religious figures are not represented in the graph at all.

Visit Pantheon to see for yourself, and find more on the data and methodology used here.

* Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

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As we put down the remote control and pick up a book, we might send tasty birthday greetings to the culinary genius behind green eggs and ham, Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA “Dr. Seuss”; he was born on this date in 1904.  After a fascinating series of early-career explorations, Geisel settled on a style that created what turned out to be the perfect “gateway drug” to book addiction for generations of young readers.

The more that you read,

The more things you will know.

The more that you learn,

The more places you’ll go.

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (1978)

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Written by LW

March 2, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Data without some sort of analysis is just noise”*…

 

The Scientific American Reference Book of 1913, compiled by Albert A. Hopkins and A. Russell Bond, is available to read on the Internet Archive… a delightful snapshot of the concerns of readers of the magazine a hundred years ago, as well as an interesting tour through infographic design strategies au courant at the time.

“The Editorial staff of the Scientific American receive annually about 15,000 inquiries covering a wide range of topics,” explained Hopkins in a preface. While the magazine had earlier published a Scientific American Cyclopedia of Receipts, Notes, and Queries (which did well, selling 25,000 copies), the book didn’t quite fill the needs of every reader; letter-writers wanted general information about the world, not just scientific formulas.

They wanted information about the Antarctic region, the Panama route, shipping, navies, armies, railroads, population, education, patents, submarine cables, wireless telegraphy, manufactures, agriculture, mining, mechanical movements, astronomy, and the weather…

The infographics are also, of course, an opportunity to compare those times to ours (e.g.: the most recent data on expenditure on public education in the U.S. suggests that “teachers salaries”– “instruction”– has fallen to 54% of the total.)

More backstory and examples at “A Treasure Trove of Awkward Early-20th-Century Infographics.” Page through the entire volume here.

* Irene Ros, Bocoup; interview, October, 02, 2014

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As we compress, 1000 words at a time, we might send statistically-significant birthday greetings to Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet; he was born on this date in 1796.  An astronomer, mathematician, statistician, and sociologist, he was instrumental in introducing statistical methods to the social sciences. From 1825, he wrote papers on social statistics, and in 1835 gained international recognition for publication of Sur l’homme et le developpement de ses facultés, essai d’une physique sociale, in which he used the normal curve (which had previously been applied to error correction) to illustrate a distribution of measured human traits about a central value–  pioneering the concept of “the average man or woman.” One of his primary foci was public health: his establishment of a simple measure for classifying people’s weight relative to an ideal for their height, the body mass index (AKA, the Quetelet index), has endured with minor variations to the present day.

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Written by LW

February 22, 2016 at 1:01 am

“I’m always flattered and honored when people cover my music or sing my songs, no matter where it is”*…

 

Our most beloved songs have a longer history than we might think. They might exist in hundreds of alternative versions created by other artists in distant decades. Those versions can differ in character and style and reach completely different audiences.

We looked closely at the 50 most popular cover songs as well as the original works. Galaxy of Covers is the result of this analysis and allows you to explore the evolution from idea to recording.

The panorama view shows the 50 top songs as individual planetary systems with the original work as the sun. Each planet represents a version of the song and it’s appearance indicates characteristics including genre, popularity, tempo, valence, energy, and speechiness. The radius of its orbit around the sun shows the years between the publication dates. This view allows you to compare the structure and density of the constellation of different songs from a high-level perspective.

The detail view [as above] lists the versions of one song in cross section. The characteristics and positioning of the planets is consistent with the panorama. This view allows you to compare different versions of the same song individually…

From Interactive Things, a music lover’s delight: “Galaxy of Covers.”

* Amos Lee

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As we remark on the sincerest from of flattery, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that a new group released it’s first single, “Got a Job”– a answer to to the hit “Get A Job” by the Silhouettes– and so it was that The Miracles (AKA Smokey Robinson and the Miracles) were introduced to the world.  Berry Gordy had produced the tune, which netted the group and their producer $3.19.  At Robinson’s urging, Gordy formed his own label, Tamla (the forerunner to Motown)… and the rest is history.

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Written by LW

February 19, 2016 at 1:01 am

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on”*…

 

From Grog LLC, because it’s “better to know a knot and not need it, than need a knot and not know it”: Animated Knots.

[TotH to Kyle Lerfald]

* Franklin D. Roosevelt

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As wrap then pull, we might recall that it was on this date in 2006 that the MS al-Salam Boccaccio 98, an Egyptian Roll on/Roll off passenger ferry, sank in the Red Sea en route from Duba, Saudi Arabia, to Safaga in southern Egypt. 388 people were rescued; the balance of the estimated 1400 passengers and crew– the majority, Egyptians working in Saudi Arabia, but also including pilgrims returning from the Hajj in Mecca–were lost.

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Written by LW

February 3, 2016 at 1:01 am

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