Friday, September 28, 2007

The Wine Advocate Vintage Guide

From, the online Wine Advocate Vintage Guide. Fascinating guide of wines from 1970-2005. Wines are grouped by region and year, and each group is scored and given a letter code to identify the current maturity status of those wines (like Ready to Drink, Too Old and Early Maturing). The color coding represents ranges of the numeric scores.

The guide is interactive, so clicking on any of the rating circles brings you to a list of the specific wines grouped together for that region. For the specific wines, you can see their individual name, score, maturity level and price range.

A PDF version of the guide is available here for download.

Travel Time Maps

From, time travel maps take into consideration the means of travel (car, rail, etc.) and the different paths available. Above is a map of London and shows time to travel from the center of town. The white contour lines represent half hour intervals, and the color coding has warm colors for the shortest times, and cool colors for the longest times.

The really interesting feature are the "islands". These small circles represent destinations that you can reach much faster than the surrounding area. Mainly stations for faster trains than have fewer stops.

Strangely similar in concept to an "event horizon".

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Shanghai Urban Planning

Last year I was in Shanghai, China on business. A friend suggested we visit the Shanghai Urban Planning building, and the first thing I thought was "ohhh, I bet that's exciting...not". But, he convinced us to give it a try, and here are a few photos I took.

On the top floor of this building is the largest model of urban planning in the world. For an American, seeing Shanghai is a shock at how large the city is, and how many skyscrapers there are. For reference, Shanghai's population is about 22 million people, compared to about 8 million in New York. Most U.S. cities have a "downtown" type area where the most skyscrapers are clustered, but Shanghai is a city of skyscrapers everywhere.

The World Population Map is one way to understand the scale difference between the U.S. and China, but this model city is astounding. Even better than riding around town (you definitely don't want to be the one driving), the model city really drives home the scale of Shanghai, and what has been accomplished in urban development. The model is built at 1:2000 scale.

Those are the building support columns in the middle of the model, NOT some new super skyscraper!

Monday, September 24, 2007

History of Computer Languages

O'Reilly has created a poster showing the 50-year history of computer languages from 1954 to 2004, available as a PDF. They have also been giving away copies of the posters at O'Reilly conferences. I love the links shown where older languages split or combined to create the newer languages over time.

I look back around 1990 when I was programming in college and see Fortran V, C++ and the birth of Visual Basic. I remember having to convince my engineering professors to let me program assignments in C++ instead of Fortran.

The original diagram was created by Éric Lévénez. Although O'Reilly is not updating the poster, Eric is keeping his original diagram up to date on

31 Days in Iraq

This map of Iraq from the visually shows the over 1,900 people killed in Iraq during the month of January 2007.
"The map, based on data from the American, British and Iraqi governments and from news reports, shows the dates, locations and circumstances of deaths."
The number has doubled since they did this for January 2006 which had around 800 deaths. Each figure represents an individual of the American forces, coalition forces, Iraqi forces, police officers or civilian death. The larger figures have numbers showing how many people they represent (which I think diminishes the visual impact). A smaller icon shows the cause of death. All the figures are connected to a location in the country.

I would have added some color coding too, but I'm guessing the NY Times had to keep it in black & white to print it in the newspaper.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Earth At Night

This satellite photo from NASA spans a 24-hour period showing the entire surface of the Earth in darkness. The lights obviously show the highest areas of concentration of civilization.
Note the Nile River delta, the Siberian Express railway route, the Australian coastal cities, and Africa, literally "the dark continent".
From Princeton's International Networks Archive, the old project of Jonathan Harris.

Friday, September 21, 2007

AT&T: A History

In 1984, the government broke up "Ma Bell" as a monopoly. Since then it has slowly be pulling back together. This infographic really puts all the pieces back together in a simple way that you understand immediately. Kind of like a free-form timeline, instead of the traditional, left-to-right timeline visual. The AT&T brand name is still so strong, Cingular chose to rename all of their stores AT&T after their recent merger.

Found on

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The inner mind of a brand geek

A subject near and dear to my heart, I found this poster on Visual Complexity. This map "illustrates the intricate, interwoven relationship between businesses and their brands." The source appears to be, which is a Marketing agency in the UK.

I love this map, and I thought this would be a good entry to the VizThink Mind Map Contest.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bed Sheets for Couples

My wife got the biggest laugh out of these. Found on Information Aesthetics, these double bed sheets are printed with a ruler starting at the center and measuring outward. You can always tell whose side you're on because the ruler is printed to be read when you are in the bed.

The sheets are from DesignWise, a store chain with designer products in Portugal, Spain and France. DESIGNWISE is a brand that edits original products and objects created by Portuguese designers. does a great job showing you the data while testing your own internet connection speed. From locating a test server on the map, to animating the speedometer as the test runs. Without much text at all explaining what's going on, you understand the test, and the results.

Then you get the code to embed your results (see below) into a blog post, email or website. How fast is your connection?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Human Trafficking

Found on, this disturbing poster examines global human trafficking.
"It depicts each country's level of involvement (from Very High to Very Low) as either a country of destination or origin. The project concentrates on the smuggling of people from one country to another - mainly illegally. In many cases these people are forced to do work that is illegal, such as prostitution or child labor."
The poster was created by Taulant Bushi, and the original image is here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Elegant Universe

Following my earlier post on Imagining the Tenth Dimension, I found that NOVA has put the entire 3-hour show The Elegant Universe on their website.

The show is full of different visual methods to visual strings, gravity, the scale of particles and multiple dimensions. Brian Greene really did a fantastic job with this show based on his book on the same name.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Amazon System

How does Amazon turn your online book order into a physical shipment to your doorstep? One of a handful of great infographics from Ron Oden on the site.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Check this one out! The graphic above is an embedded object from searchCrystal that lets you search multiple sources for images (or other forms of information). I've preloaded it to search for "inforgraphics" from GoogleImages, Flickr, AskImages, YahooImages and MSNImages. When you dig a little deeper, you can choose the different sources you are searching from, save searches, share results with others, etc.

The arrangement shows the overlap of the results from multiple sites. Simple navigation like scrolling over images enlarges them, and clicking takes you to the source image.

Also works for video, blogs, tags, news, etc...blah, blah, blah. We only care about images don't we?

Personal Pies

Craig Robinson from Flip Flop Flyin' charted his current existence with the use of pie charts in his Personal Pies project. Although amusing to look through, I think this demonstrates really well how shallow pie charts are, and how much information depth can be lost with charts.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Bloomberg Makeover

Three design firms took on the challenge of re-designing the Bloomberg terminal interface, and the results were fantastic. The challenge came from The original article is here, but the fantasy terminals are here with an interactive interface that lets you highlight and zoom in on particular features. The design above is from and is my personal favorite.

Bloomberg claims to be constantly improving their interface design, but it still looks like runs on DOS and is straight out of the 80's.

Here is the desing from

And one from

Analytics according to Captain Kirk

This is fun one from Matt Bailey, founder of

You can read his full description here, but the point is the use of images in the chart so you can visualize the relationship between separate pieces of information. Phasers represent fights in each episode, Kirk's photo represents affairs during the episode with Captain Kirk and the colored shirts show fatalities of an actor in that colored shirt in that particular episode. Proving once and for all that being a red-shirted ensign is a hazardous job on the Enterprise.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Wealthiest Americans Ever

From the NYTimes in July 2007, an interactive infographic ranking the Wealthiest Americans after you convert their fortunes to today's dollars using the relative share of G.D.P.

Scrolling your pointer over the photos or the fortune amount shows more detail of the individual. Lots of black & white portraits! Only current rich folk Bill Gates and Warren Buffet made the list with color portraits.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Cosmic Calendar

This last December was the 10th anniversary of Carl Sagan's death. One of his most popular episodes of Cosmos was titled The Dragons of Eden where he first described his Cosmic Calendar. This website from has a simple image showing the Cosmic Calendar as Carl described it. A few websites are selling posters of the Cosmic Calendar, like

The premise is that if you compress the entire history of the universe into a calendar year, homo sapiens only exist in the last 6 minutes, and the last second represents the last 400+ years of human history.

You can see Cosmos, and hear Carl describe it on YouTube here:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Running the Numbers

Chris Jordan has created some fantastic photographic artwork depicting the massive scale of some statistics about American life. This is where infographics actually become artwork.

The image above "Depicts nine million wooden ABC blocks, equal to the number of American children with no health insurance coverage in 2007." The complete image is 16 feet tall x 32 feet wide.

There are 17 different images available to view on his website. You can see the images magnified there to show the small pieces that each image is made from. Each image is based on an actual statistic about American life.

FYI: This series will be exhibited at the Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles, opening Sep 8. More info at

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Marumushi News Map has a fantastic News Map using the treemap visualization style. This is one of the best implementations of a treemap that I have found. Updated every 6 hours, it groups news stories (from the Google news aggregator) by overall category (technology, world, sports, etc.). You can choose to show the news map from 11 different countries, and the color shading of each block represents how old that particular news story is. Hovering your mouse over any square shows the whole title, and clicking takes you directly to the story.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Microsoft Car HUD

Found on, this one has me really excited. I have been disappointed for at least two decades that real HUDs (Heads-Up Displays) have not become standard, or even available as a third party product for our cars. Now a US patent application from Microsoft has been published showing a possible future HUD for your car.

More than just your speed, with today's technology we should have things like incoming caller-id, compass direction, outside temperature, current playing music title, live GPS map and distance to the car in front of us showing around the edges of our windshields.

We can only cross our fingers and hope that this would some day become a reality.

Monday, September 3, 2007

VizThink Conference 2008

Early registration to the VizThink 2008 conference will end on September 15th. The conference is in San Francisco Jan 27-29. I won't be able to attend, but I hear that this is a great conference for people who make a living creating visual presentations, infographics, brainstorming sketches, etc.

Out friend David Gray from XPLANE is one of the conference facilitators (speakers).

A big THANKS to the folks at VizThink for adding a link to Cool Infographics on their VizThink Blog!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

World Population Density

This is a prime example of how seeing the data visually is better than reading numbers. Here is a population density map from Wikipedia.

We have heard that China and India have most of the human population in the world, but here you can really see and understand how much. Reading that China's population is four times that of the U.S. is much harder than really seeing it on a map.

The Wikipedia page on World Population has some other great information too.

World Clock Counter

You've seen these counters on highway billboards and other websites before. The World Clock from combines many of these counters together into one dashboard.

I've added a smaller version to the bottom of the right pane here on on the blog.

Visual Tire Pressure

Infographics don't have to be complicated. This is a very simple, real-world example of an infographic system to monitor the tire pressure on your car called Accu-Pressure Caps. A set of four gauges screw onto your tire's valve stems, and the air pressure pushes the green indicator completely out. As tire pressure begins to drop, so does the green indicator revealing a yellow indicator, and ultimately the red indicator. The key here is to buy the set of caps to match the tire pressure you want to maintain on your car.

An alternative is from, which is a battery operated version. These always start with the tire pressure when you screw them on, and when the pressure drops by 4psi the LED light on the end starts blinking to get your attention.