Ash at CIID

Ashwin Rajan's blog while at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design.

History of Religion Visualization

with one comment

Check out this compelling information visualization on the history of religion in movie format. The movie approach to presenting visualizations is very effective for communicating encapsulated information about limited and specific parameters – in this case WHEN, WHICH and HOW MUCH five dominant religions flourished.

A visulization of the history of religion in movie format

A visulization of the history of religion in movie format

This mode is the opposite approach to an interactive timeline/map approach, where all of the information would be available upfront, and the user learns primarily by exploring the interface. In which case, the customization made available to users is gained by trading off the goal to communicate something very specific as is achieved by this visualization.

Come to think of it, it is surprisingly difficult to go beyond the handful of infoviz presentation formats in currency today.  Maps, charts, graphs, clouds, trees and network diagrams seem to dominate in different forms and variations. And this is true for two reasons – its incredibly hard to find new metaphors that do a great job of representing qualitative information, and secondly, I suspect it has a lot to do with our own preferred ways of ‘seeing meaning’ – the information scanning, browsing and seeking behaviors we are most attuned to.

For instance, this is a list of Visualization Types provided by IBM’s ‘Many Eyes’. While the formats are decidely limited, the possibilities of exploiting these formats to present various types and degrees of qualitative information (as suggested by the titles they are grouped under) catch my eye.

1. See the world:
-World maps
-Country maps

2.Track rises and falls over time:
-Line graph
-Stack graph
-Stack graph for categories

3.Compare a set of values:
-Bar chart
-Block histogram
-Bubble chart
-Matrix chart

4.See relationships among data points
-Network diagram

5.See parts of a whole
-Pie chart
-Tree map
-Change tree map

6.Look for common words in a text
-Tag cloud
-Word tree


Written by Ashwin Rajan

January 2, 2009 at 4:38 am

One Response

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  1. Wow. Really great visualization. I knew that not all religions were that old, but I quite surprised how quickly they spread.


    January 4, 2009 at 9:58 am

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