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Posts Tagged ‘Information is Beautiful

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time…”*

 

 click here for larger version of full infographic

From our old friend David McCandless and his ever-illuminating Information is Beautiful, a look at length… The image above is the beginning of a fascinating infographic in which he compares the relative length (code base size) of applications, devices, and (considering DNA to be “code”) organisms.  There are some surprises (Mac OSX 10.4 is bigger than the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System; the software in a modern high-end car is bigger than both); and– as one sees when one scrolls all the way to the bottom, a poignant relevancy:  the Healthcare.gov website (according to most-recently released figures) is much, much bigger still– over 8 times the size of Facebook’s code base, almost 4 times as large as the genome of a mouse.

*Blaise Pascal (often attributed to Mark Twain, who did also say it)

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As we contemplate complexity, we might send efficiently-printed birthday greetings to Johann Alois Senefelder; he was born on this date in 1771.  A playwright and actor who’d fallen into debt over printing problems with one of his plays, Senefelder began to experiment with cheaper ways of bringing his works to market– a less expensive and more efficient printing alternative to relief printed hand set type or etched plates.  His invention, lithography, was the biggest revolution in the printing industry since Johannes Gutenberg’s movable type.

The principle is simple: an image is drawn with greasy crayon (traditionally, on Bavarian limestone) and chemically treated/fixed; the image areas of the stone accept oil-based ink and undrawn areas reject it. Today, photo lithography is the primary technique used to print magazines and books; but Senefelder’s original process of drawing by hand on litho stones is still in use in the fine arts.

 source

 

1 picture, 1000 words, and all that…

Readers will recall David McCandless and his site, Information is Beautiful, on which he reminds us, day in day out, that good design is “beauty that works”– in his case more specifically, that gorgeous graphics can also be powerful communicators about issues that matter.  Consider his recent depiction of relative personnel commitments in Afghanistan:

click here for accompanying graphics

As we cherish perspective, we might recall that it was on this date in 1791 that Mozart’s blissful Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) premiered in Vienna.

Librettist Emanuel Schikaneder performing in the role of Papageno

 

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Deja vu all over again…

Further to “Pardon me, but do you have the time?…,” an epic effort from David McCandless and InformationIsBeautiful.net:

As for his next project, McCandless is recruiting: “So who wants to work with me on the Dr Who one? I’m serious. Email me.”

As we check our watches, we might recall that it was this date in 1998 that Scholastic published the first book in the Harry Potter saga, re-titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for consumption in the United States. The changes went beyond the title (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the original UK incarnation): illustrations were added to the start of each chapter, and British spelling, punctuation, grammar, and vocabulary were “translated” into American English. The first print run was 50,000 copies. (The initial UK run was 500 copies, which occasioned an extraordinary scramble at the printers…)

Scholastic was behaving in a time-honored way, recognizing that (as Wilde or Shaw or Churchill; it’s variously attributed) observed, “England and America are two people divided by a common language.”  When Samuel Goldwyn was preparing the U.S. release the film adaptation of Alan Bennett’s wonderful play, The Madness of George III, he insisted that the title be changed to The Madness of King George.  Goldwyn was concerned that American audiences might take the original title to mean that the film was a sequel.

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