Sustainability Networks

Posted: April 24th, 2009 | Author: Manuel Lima | Filed under: Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

From a series of conversations with people in HATCH, it really hit me the need for our community to come together on the global effort of building a responsive public awareness for sustainability. We can really make a difference! Thousands of researchers around the world are conducting a series of environmental studies and collecting petabytes of relevant data. We can help them better communicate their findings and in the process help driving knowledge, education, and potentially uncover hidden patterns in the data - one of the key strengths of data visualization.

Visualizing your network of friends is cool, but we have many other urgent problems that need to be addressed. Intensive Farming, Land Degradation, Overpopulation, Ozone Depletion, Water Pollution, Waste, etc. The list of environmental issues is long and in desperate need of powerful, functional and rich visualizations. Besides our moral duty, many of these topics present problems of organized complexity, where hundreds of variables are interconnected and interdependent, posing astoundingly compelling visualization challenges for developers, artists, designers and programmers. If you want to join this effort, here are some links of resources where you can get environmental data:

There are currently 16 categories of projects on VisualComplexity, from Transportation Networks to Biology. My wish is to create a new category in a near future, that will be filled with fresh visualizations on many of the issues mentioned above. The name that this category might carry, either Sustainability Networks, Ecosystems, or simply Environment, is probably the least important aspect. If this wish comes to fruition it might prove that designers really want to make a difference with the tools they have at their disposal, and that Information Visualization is more that just eye-candy pictures.

Alternative Subway Maps

Posted: April 24th, 2009 | Author: Manuel Lima | Filed under: Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Subway maps are a predominant graphic element in many cities across the world, and due to its inherent ability to illustrate intricate systems they have been used to portrait many disparate concepts. This list showcases some of these appealing projects.

London Underground

As one of the most emblematic design icons of the world, the London Underground map as been one of the most popular targets for witty interpretations and adaptions. One of the most notorious experiments was developed by artist Simon Patterson in 1992. In The Great Bear, Patterson took the names of philosophers, scientists and other famous people and attached them to Underground stations:

The Great Bear
- Simon Patterson (1992)

Inspired by The Great Bear and using the Internet Movie Database resource, Thomas David Baker produced this version dedicated to the movie industry, featuring a variety of Directors, Actors and Cinematographers:

Moviemaker Tube Map

In 2006, The Guardian made an attempt to chart the branches and connections of 100 years of music using the London Underground map as its underlying design:

Underground Music - The Guardian (2006)

The following map shows another variation where anagrams for each individual station have replaced the original names, showing a a series of imaginary locations:

Anagram Map

This original experiment, created by illustrator Paul Middlewick in 1987, is a collection of over 20 animal characters made using only lines, stations and interchange symbols on the London Underground map. In 2003, the concept was used in a poster campaign by advertising agency McCann-Erickson to promote the London Zoo:

Animals on the Underground

For an extended list of wacky variations (and other serious ones) on the London Underground map, Owen Massey McKnight’s resource, and Geofftech are great reference points.

Tokyo Subway

In 2007 the strategic design agency Information Architects (iA), based in Tokyo, Japan, launched their first Web Trend Map (of a future series of 4). Although they were candid enough with their first version, stating that it was “totally unscientific and almost useless, but definitely fun to look at”, they ended up realizing the popularity of the project. What started as a playful Christmas gift for their clients, quickly became an expected yearly publication by iA, with the authors becoming more serious and laborious with each new iteration. This yearly publication maps the 333 most influential Web domains and the 111 most influential internet people onto a series of alternated versions of the Tokyo Metro map.

First edition - Web Trend Map (2007)

Second edition - Web Trend Map (2007)

Third edition - Web Trend Map (2008)

Fourth edition - Web Trend Map (2009)

This last edition of the Web Trend Map is reminiscent of the work developed by ZEROPERZERO for their Tokyo and Seoul alternative maps:


Influenced by the previous Web Trend Maps, the following diagram aims at visualizing the same concept but using the Barcelona subway map as the underlying structure:

The Internet - Barcelona Subway Map