One week of The Guardian: Thursday

This one’s been a long time coming let me tell you! It’s been sat on my computer finished for almost two weeks now, and I feel really good it’s finally published, like a weight’s been lifted.

This visual was pretty much focused on the relationships created between headlines, authors, pages, and categories. I wanted to see how much of a mess the relationships could make if they were all surrounding one container (like the square graphs we drew as children, linking adjoining sides by straight lines to create beautiful symmetrical perspectives). It’s pretty easy to work out. The only thing you might need to know is that the weight of the lines are proportionate to the word count of each story. Sticky icky yummy yummy!

One week of the Guardian: Thursday Preview 1

One week of the Guardian: Thursday Preview 2

One week of the Guardian: Thursday Preview 3

One week of the Guardian: Thursday Preview 4

One week of the Guardian: Thursday Preview 5

The Series

This is one day in a series that takes the news from one week of the Guardian newspaper, and visually represents it as a series of static visualisations. You may also be interested in:

  • Monday - A typographic and layout based piece previewing the contents of the paper as ingredients.
  • Tuesday - A list of headlines contained in the paper illustrated with references to the article or subject.
  • Wednesday - A polar graph inspired layout mapping the stories and categories on colour coded concentric circles.
  • Thursday - A content map showing the relationships between information inside of a circular container.
  • Friday - A text heavy piece highlighting the sheer amount of information contained within in the paper.
  • Saturday - A grid based typographic piece, showing patterns and author relationships through the paper.

One week of The Guardian: Wednesday

UPDATE: This post has been updated on 05 April 2008.

This visual has been modified from its original version. The logo has been amended, and introduction information has been added.

Well yet another day is complete. When there’s little distraction I really enjoy cranking these visuals out. Looking at it now, in some ways the result kind of reminds me of a ’70s pinball-esque, dark side of the moon album covered hard drive. Schweeet!

The original idea was inspired by looking at polar graphs, and figuring out a way to maximise the amount of data I could plot on it. The concentric circles are news categories, expanding from least to most total word counts per category. The individual word counts of each story are plotted on the corresponding concentric circle, on a spoke of the corresponding page. The rest I’m sure you can figure out. Pretty no?

One week of The Guardian: Wednesday preview 1

One week of The Guardian: Wednesday preview 2

One week of The Guardian: Wednesday preview 3

One week of The Guardian: Wednesday preview 4

One week of The Guardian: Wednesday preview 5

One week of The Guardian: Wednesday preview 6

One week of The Guardian: Wednesday preview 7

Mmm…. Taste the rainbow!

Expandability!

As I was making this one, I was thinking that if it were pulling live data (like RSS/XML or pulling direct from some news database), it would be rather nice to tile the days. Each day is represented by one set of concentric circles, and each category in the circle is linked to its equivalent category for different days, each linking to everyone else in a parallel fashion. Mmm… linkage. Anyways, it’s just a thought.

One week of The Guardian: Wednesday idea

One week of The Guardian: Wednesday idea 2

I’m imagining a HUGE set of these static visuals on a gallery wall for one whole year. Damn that would be cool.

The Series

This is one day in a series that takes the news from one week of the Guardian newspaper, and visually represents it as a series of static visualisations. You may also be interested in:

  • Monday - A typographic and layout based piece previewing the contents of the paper as ingredients.
  • Tuesday - A list of headlines contained in the paper illustrated with references to the article or subject.
  • Wednesday - A polar graph inspired layout mapping the stories and categories on colour coded concentric circles.
  • Thursday - A content map showing the relationships between information inside of a circular container.
  • Friday - A text heavy piece highlighting the sheer amount of information contained within in the paper.
  • Saturday - A grid based typographic piece, showing patterns and author relationships through the paper.

Visualisations and infographics

I’m about to start the third visualisation for my One Week of The Guardian series, and I’ve been looking through my research on static visualisations and infographics research. Some of these visuals are really very beautiful, so I’m about to share. Enjoy.

Visualisations and infographics 1

The NYTimes has a nice clean infographic on what the presidential candidates have raised and spent.

Visualisations and infographics 2

Another one from the NYTimes, this one shows the fatalities of a year in Iraq. The NYTimes has alot of really nice infographics. Alot.

Visualisations and infographics 3

The black holes of the internet. Very nice.

Visualisations and infographics 4

The Economist has an infographic about how the world consumes petrol per day.

Visualisations and infographics 5

A series of infographics created by Clarence Larkin using biblical data to explain various religious concepts.

Visualisations and infographics 6

Interactive infographic on Portfolio.com showing the generosity of countries who give aid to charity around the world.

Visualisations and infographics 7

Another religous visualisation, this time by Chris Harrison.

Visualisations and infographics 8

An American Self Portrait by Chris Jordan uses photo compositions to depict statistical goings on in everyday America.

Visualisations and infographics 9

Death and Taxes shows the allocation of federal taxes in the US to it’s divisions and organisations who claim over $200m annually.

Visualisations and infographics 10

Dugg Analytics uses the DiggAPI to visualise a bunch of different data from Digg.com.

Visualisations and infographics 11

Eskimoblood has a pretty nice visualisation of Flickr group members built with Processing.

Visualisations and infographics 12

RadicalCartography shows a map of the crops in the US.

Visualisations and infographics 13

BillyBob has a nice little chart of what happened during a 30 minute CNN broadcast.

Visualisations and infographics 14

I love these static relationship visualisations by Mark Lombardi.

Visualisations and infographics 15

Tuur Van Balen has a nice visualisation project where actual items are mapped onto a plan of a city.

Visualisations and infographics 16

Skin colour map of the world. Simple but nice.

Visualisations and infographics 17

Another visualisation from the NYTimes, this one shows the profitability of movies at the box office.

Visualisations and infographics 18

Presidential Watch ‘08 has a nice map of political blogs and how they link to one another.

Visualisations and infographics 19

Ian Dapot visualises The Force of Things by author relationships and ideas.

Visualisations and infographics 20

And lastly, a nice little pyramid/hierarchy of zombie needs.

Other data visualisation finds

One week of The Guardian: Tuesday

UPDATE: This post has been updated on 05 April 2008. The original contents of this post can be found in this text file.

This visual has been modified from its original version. The background has been changed (taken from a very light grey to a very dark grey/black) to be consistent with the overall style. Illustrations have been tweaked to appear better on the darker background. Nothing else has been changed.

Today’s visual lists all of the headlines to appear in The Guardian for February 19th 2008, and sized them according to their word count for each article. Some of the more important words, words that describe particular actions, or names of people or places have been illustrated in order to more effectively communicate the headline. (Although the plain one is really really nice too!)

What I wanted to show was just how many stories are in The Guardian newspaper, and highlight some of the more meaningful words. There are alot, averaging at around 60 stories a day, plus change on the weekend edition.

One week of the Guardian: Tuesday Preview 1

One week of the Guardian: Tuesday Preview 2

One week of the Guardian: Tuesday Preview 3

One week of the Guardian: Tuesday Preview 4

One week of the Guardian: Tuesday Preview 5

One week of the Guardian: Tuesday Preview 6

One week of the Guardian: Tuesday Preview 7

The Series

This is one day in a series that takes the news from one week of the Guardian newspaper, and visually represents it as a series of static visualisations. You may also be interested in:

  • Monday - A typographic and layout based piece previewing the contents of the paper as ingredients.
  • Tuesday - A list of headlines contained in the paper illustrated with references to the article or subject.
  • Wednesday - A polar graph inspired layout mapping the stories and categories on colour coded concentric circles.
  • Thursday - A content map showing the relationships between information inside of a circular container.
  • Friday - A text heavy piece highlighting the sheer amount of information contained within in the paper.
  • Saturday - A grid based typographic piece, showing patterns and author relationships through the paper.

Mid term review

Today I have a mid term review, of which the requirements are:

  • A very short statement about the work
  • An image of 1024x768 AND 2048x1536 for publicity for the show
  • Your project work
  • A presentation about the project including background, contextual and theoretical research, what I am making, how I am making it, why I am making it
  • Sketchbooks and/or working notes and files
  • 2x printed A2 storyboards

To make things easier for me to remember, and also help with the presentation, I’m gathering up everything required into one post.

A short statement about the work

DTN is a series of experiments which visually explore the news in various ways to encourage new ways of seeing a predominantly text based medium.

Publicity images

For the publicity images for the show, I chose to use the boat image for a headline about pollution as I feel it best sums up what I am trying to show. It is a graphical representation of a headline, which shows subtle details of the story in the composition.

Publicity S

Your project work

The DesignLab showcases all of the completed work so far, contained in posts which describe how and why I did what I did for each piece of work.

Research and theory

Background: When I started the project my initial idea was to create a piece of artwork every 1-2 days based on what was in the newspapers. When my project expanded, I tried to decide what I wanted to say with each image, with the style and the amount of detail.

Eventually I wanted to create some visualisations of the news. When I researched into visualisations, I discovered alot of what I was planning to do had already been done before, and didn’t feel the need to re-invent the wheel. As I still wanted to experiment with visualisations, I decided to look into static visualisations. Extracting information out of a newspaper for a specific period of time, one week, and creating a series of static visualisations focusing on the weight of the story, the content and theme, the author, the position it appears in the paper, the category, and more.

Research: For the illustrated images I have been mainly looking at different graphic styles and ways of reducing information into its most simple form. To take a headline/story and represent it as a single image without the message being lost is alot about taking the strongest most important points of a story, and focusing on communicating them. With my experiments I have found that over complicating the image with too many elements often misleads the message, as the end user ends up focusing on some insignificant detail rather than the main message.

For the static visualisations, I’ve been looking alot at dynamic visualisations and how they work, what kind of visualisations they produce. Edward Tufte’s book ‘Envisioning Information’ has some interesting ways of mapping complex data, and alot of nautical maps hold some excellent ideas too. Currently I’ve been working on weighting categories and items in news, and simplifying the paper. From the statistics collected so far, even without them being visualised, there are interesting trends to be noticed and further developed.

What I am making: A series of experiments which encourage new ways of visualising a predominantly text based medium. The visuals look at reducing and expanding news to give either a ‘quick message hit’, or further insight into a headline/story. Presented as desktop wallpapers and posters, the images are intended to be used as accompaniment to newspaper articles to encourage a wider audience to dialect about a subject more than a standalone article might.

How I am making it: As the work I’m doing is very graphical, the programs I’ve been using are mainly Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. For some of the visualisations, I’ve been collecting statistics by updating a spreadsheet in OpenOffice, and then using some online tools such as ManyEyes by IBM to see how the data works in a standard dynamic visual.

Why I am making it: Sometimes a headline isn’t enough to attract a reader to an article, and images are used to give a reader further insight and set the scene. I thought that if I could represent the most important elements of the article in a single image, whether the reader actually read the article wouldn’t matter, as they would know by looking at the image what the article was about.

Depending on the complexity of the image, a quick look at the image may offer a user one or two important points. A longer look may offer a user an idea of how the images’ elements are interacting with one another, giving a visual picture of how the headline comes together. For some of the more detailed images, subtle article details are embedded only to be noticed by those who take an engaged approach to understanding the composition.

For the static visualisations, I thought it was interesting to capture a moment in time, instead of having a dynamic visual which changes whenever a new story is published. As I didn’t know what would happen in the one week I recorded the data, it was quite interesting to think what could have happened. For example, if this project was conducted in the week of September 3, 1939, it would have recorded the date when England and France declared war on Germany, or any other significant date in history. However, if a major event like this had happened it wouldn’t have given a true account of what happens in the news the rest of the time. Having a rather major event free news week means the spread of news topics would be on average the same as any other day of the year, giving a clearer picture of what the news is in the UK during this time.

Sketchbooks and/or working notes and files

I have a hell of a lot of notes and idea sketching which I’m not scanning in or posting. Mainly because if I did you wouldn’t be able to decipher my chicken scratch anyhow.

Printed A2 Storyboards

The storyboards can be previewed in PDF format by clicking on the images below. They very briefly explain the project, and showcase some of the work completed so far.

March_1 S


March_2 S

UPDATE: After the review

Well I had my review the other day. All seemed to go pretty well. On the whole it helped me to clarify a few things.

  • What function does the project serve? The project is about visually editing headlines, stories, and newspapers to try to communicate what the subject is about more effectively. Images which appear with news stories are usually there to set the scene or give identity to a character, but what I am trying to do is merge the text and the images into one composition which communicates the facts, and removes the opinion and the unclear.
  • What are the outcomes? Two main strands of work: Visually editing individual news headlines, and creating static visualisations of newspapers as a whole. The headlines will be presented as desktop wallpapers and postcards, and the static visualisations will be printed as large format posters.
  • Why static visuals and not dynamic? There are many other existing projects that create dynamic visuals. For example, the ManyEyes visualisations I created show the data but not styled in the context of the subject. A particularly bad week of news with lots of murder and violence may be dynamically coloured in bright happy colours, not representative of the stories. Plus I don’t want to automate the process. There is a human editor at the top of the newspaper hierarchy who decides what goes in a paper and what doesn’t, so I want to become the visual editor deciding what best commmunicates the story in terms of image compositions.

One week of The Guardian: Interactive visuals

Since I put together the One Week of The Guardian statistics, I’ve been playing alot with sketching up alot of static visuals. I’ve also been playing around with some interactive visuals using the ManyEyes visualisation software. I ended up with some really cool results.

Bubble chart by days, sized by total word count, coloured by categories. Shows the total number of words in the seperate categories for the day.

Matrix graph by day and category, coloured by headlines. Breaks down the stories in each category by day.

Relationship graph of authors by day. Shows what authors appeared in the paper for the day.

Word count by page number. Shows the most popular locations of where the bigger articles appear in the pages of The Guardian.

Total categories by percentage for the week. Shows a typical week of the Guardian by the categories of news it prefers to print.

Thoughts

Some of these are nice, and the interactivity can be fun for a getting into some of the more nitty gritty details, but none of them really carries any emotion. Showing a murder story as a bright shiny piece of a pie doesn’t really do it justice.