Looking outwards 1 (david yen)

by davidyen @ 9:10 pm 12 January 2010

While looking through The New York Times’s infographics, I found this fun gem: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/08/29/opinion/20090829-smell-map-feature.html. I thought it was fantastic because it was an unusual representation of unusual data that nevertheless incorporated and relied on interaction to tell its story. I think it’s fantastic that he went out and “collected data” himself, since as said in class compelling visualizations are based on interesting information, and this unusual source is colored by the personal nature of the “data.” He could have gone the route of crowd-sourcing the smells/index popular opinion to add some credibility to his representation of NY, but that would have made it so much less interesting. Also I like how he based the visualization on a navigating the city by nose, which gives a linear structure for the infoviz, while simultaneously adding a personal NY touch as the viewer is invited to imagine literally walking through the city, notebook in hand. Overall the strength of the piece definitely comes from the nostalgic, personal nature, and I think the data, the format, and the illustrations all manage to drive this home, making an infoviz successfully go somewhere most infoviz does not.

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