And speaking of height…

Another wonderful example, more powerful as words than as an image:

Jan Pen, a Dutch economist who died last year, came up with a striking way to picture inequality. Imagine people’s height being proportional to their income, so that someone with an average income is of average height. Now imagine that the entire adult population of America is walking past you in a single hour, in ascending order of income.

The first passers-by, the owners of loss-making businesses, are invisible: their heads are below ground. Then come the jobless and the working poor, who are midgets. After half an hour the strollers are still only waist-high, since America’s median income is only half the mean. It takes nearly 45 minutes before normal-sized people appear. But then, in the final minutes, giants thunder by. With six minutes to go they are 12 feet tall. When the 400 highest earners walk by, right at the end, each is more than two miles tall.

(From The Economist, by way of Eva)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 | finance, scale  

The importance of showing numbers in context

An info graphic from the Boston Globe:

measuring in shaq inches

Monday, January 31, 2011 | basketball, scale, sports  

Come work with us in Boston

Fathom Information Design is looking for developers and designers. Come join us!

We’re looking for people to join us at Fathom. For all the positions, you’ll be creating work like you see on fathom.info, plus more mobile projects (Android, iOS, JavaScript) and the occasional installation piece. If you’re a developer, design skills are a plus. Or if you’re a designer, same goes for coding.

  • Developer – Looking for someone with a strong background in Java, and some C/C++ as well. On Monday this person would be sorting out more advanced aspects of a client project. On Tuesday they would hone the Processing Development Environment, mercilessly crushing bugs. On Wednesday they would refactor critical visualization tools used by brilliant scientists. On Thursday they could put out a fire in another client project without breaking a sweat, and on the fifth day, they would choose what we’re having for Beer Friday. This messiah also might not mind being referred to in the third person.
  • Web Developer – In 1996, I used Java for my Computer Graphics 2 homework at Carnegie Mellon. I’ll never forget the look on the face of my professor Paul Heckbert (Graphics Gems IV, Pixar, and now Gigapan — a man who wrote an actual ray tracer in C code that fit on the back of a business card), when he asked me during office hours why this was a good idea. Your professor did the same thing when you told him (or her) that you’d be implementing your final project with JavaScript and Canvas. We need amazing things to happen with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and you’re the person to do it.
  • Junior Designer – You’ve finished your undergrad design program and feel the need to make beautiful things. Your commute is spent fixing the typography in dreadful subway ads (only in your head, please). You are capable of pixel-level detail work to get mobile apps or a web site just right. And if we’re lucky, you’re so good with color that you’ve been mistaken for an impressionist painter.
  • Senior Designer – So all that stuff above that the Junior Designer candidate thinks they can do? You can actually do it. And more important, you have the patience and humility to teach it to others around you. You’re also an asset on group projects, best friends with developers, and adored by clients.

At the moment, we’re only looking for people located in (or willing to relocate to) the Boston area.

Please send résumé or CV, links to relevant work, and cover letter to inquire (at) fathom (dot) info. Please do not write us individually, as that may void your contest entry.

Monday, January 17, 2011 | opportunities  

Visualizing Data Book CoverVisualizing Data is my book about computational information design. It covers the path from raw data to how we understand it, detailing how to begin with a set of numbers and produce images or software that lets you view and interact with information. Unlike nearly all books in this field, it is a hands-on guide intended for people who want to learn how to actually build a data visualization.

The text was published by O’Reilly in December 2007 and can be found at Amazon and elsewhere. Amazon also has an edition for the Kindle, for people who aren’t into the dead tree thing. (Proceeds from Amazon links found on this page are used to pay my web hosting bill.)

Examples for the book can be found here.

The book covers ideas found in my Ph.D. dissertation, which is basis for Chapter 1. The next chapter is an extremely brief introduction to Processing, which is used for the examples. Next is (chapter 3) is a simple mapping project to place data points on a map of the United States. Of course, the idea is not that lots of people want to visualize data for each of 50 states. Instead, it’s a jumping off point for learning how to lay out data spatially.

The chapters that follow cover six more projects, such as salary vs. performance (Chapter 5), zipdecode (Chapter 6), followed by more advanced topics dealing with trees, treemaps, hierarchies, and recursion (Chapter 7), plus graphs and networks (Chapter 8).

This site is used for follow-up code and writing about related topics.