How to cram lots of differing but related info into a graphic
March 8, 2008 4:21 PM   Subscribe

A few years ago I saw a graph/map/info chart that displayed Napoleon's 1812 March to Russia. What was interesting about the graphic was how it displayed multiple facets of informations all at once.

Somehow the days, temperature and perhaps even army strength were displayed in one single fluctuating line with perhaps some wording at the bottom.

I am trying to find out what this kind of meshed multiple information is called and where I might find other examples of it.
posted by tarvuz to Education (11 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
It may have been in one of Edward Tufte's books.
posted by electroboy at 4:23 PM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Minard Map! One of my favourites.
posted by By The Grace of God at 4:25 PM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

This was a graph by Charles Minard(wiki article has a picture). I'm not sure if there is a name for a graph like this, but you can find a lot of information about this sort of thing in the work of Edward Tufte. Have a look at his books.
posted by fingo at 4:31 PM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Tufte goes with "space-time-story graphics" (from The Visual Display of Quantitive Information).
Seriously beautiful book, makes you think you should be wearing silk gloves to read it.
posted by muteh at 4:37 PM on March 8, 2008

silk gloves to read it. idea appealing Tufte, who has his begloved assistant walk around with illuminated manuscripts in his seminars.

A superb--if somewhat strikingly self-satisfied--showman. Kind of a Tony Robbins for design geeks and quants. He makes a huge deal of the minard map, and sells a large version on his website. It's beautiful, as are the books.
posted by Phred182 at 4:43 PM on March 8, 2008

Best answer: This field is generally referred to as "information visualization" as per Tufte's seminal series of texts. There is no shortage of work being done these days in infovis and there is an artistic iteration of this kind of work called data art. If my descriptions and terminology sound overly pedantic it is because I'm in the midst of trying to develop my own personal definitions of these terms for a writing project that I am working on.

There are a number of great online resources including Infosthetics, Visual Complexity, Visual Methods and Flowing Data - all personal faves. Browsing the archives of these sites will reveal a wide range of work and reveal how sprawling the world of contemporary information design is! I also write about visualization on my blog Serial Consign.

Regine Debatty wrote a great introduction to infovis text earlier this year.

Some great studios to check out would be Stamen and Catalogtree (who I interviewed last summer).

Welcome to the world of infoporn!
posted by serial_consign at 4:54 PM on March 8, 2008 [11 favorites]

Just another you should read Tufte. If you like that graphic, his books will have you rolling on the floor with a woodie. I have 4 of his books on my shelf and pull them out on occasion for the damn fine fantastic information dense graphics.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:06 PM on March 8, 2008

The term that I've heard used to describe this is information graphics or infographics.
posted by platinum at 5:34 PM on March 8, 2008

It's a small world, after all. My roommate blogged about this very chart a couple days ago, and it's definitely Tufte.
posted by fogster at 6:47 PM on March 8, 2008

Worth a thousand words, an illustrated article from the Economist about that Minard graph and two other influential charts by Nightingale and Playfair.
posted by OutlawedYeomen at 6:54 PM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

How weirdly synchronistic -- I was just thinking of this graph this evening, and was going to look it up later tonight.
posted by mosk at 8:07 PM on March 8, 2008

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