Pandemic timeline as animated dot density map

As a lead-in and backdrop to a timeline of the past year by The Washington Post, an animated dot density map represents Covid-19 deaths. “Every point of light is a life lost to coronavirus.”

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Waves of distraction

I’ve been distracted lately, so instead of making regular charts, I’ve been making animated GIFs using various visual encodings. It hits the sweet spot of producing something without having to access the part of my brain for longer thinking sessions.

Tunnels:

Round and round:

Needles of uncertainty made certain:

I hope this brings some calm and predictability to your day.

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Two.js for two-dimensional drawing and animation in modern web browsers

“Two.js is deeply inspired by flat motion graphics. As a result, two.js aims to make the creation and animation of flat shapes easier and more concise.” It also renders in webgl, canvas2d, and svg, with not much change in your code. Two.js is definitely going on my list of things to try.

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Visualizing periodicity with animations

Pierre Ripoll provides several ways to visualize periodicity using animation. Moving dots, rotating spheres, concentric circles, oh my. He uses D3.js and it’s an Observable notebook, so you can see what’s going on under the hood.

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Break the chain

For The Spinoff, Toby Morris illustrates how individuals can break a chain of events:

The good news is, we can do things that will reduce the chances of us spreading the virus. That means we can break these chains and potentially stop hundreds or even thousands of people getting Covid-19. Check out The Spinoff cartoonist Toby Morris’ excellent illustration to understand how individual discipline can have an outsize impact.

Of course infection between people in a community is more complex. Just because one chain is broken doesn’t mean people further down won’t be infected by others in some other way. The goal though is to break as many chains as possible.

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SVG and CSS animations, without JavaScript

Andrew Wang-Hoyer built over 200 animations on and off over two years. They are satisfyingly hypnotic. They also only use SVG, CSS, and HTML, and you can get the code on GitHub.

I feel like sans-JavaScript is becoming a thing. Is this becoming a thing?

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Printing money at the speed of various wages

Neal Agarwal used a money printing metaphor to depict differences in various wages. The higher the wage, the faster the money prints. Keep scrolling and you also see big company revenues, finished with a frantic U.S. deficit increase.

So good. [Thanks, Neal]

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Mapping the construction of railroads in America

For the Financial Times, Alan Smith and Steven Bernard traced the history of railroad construction in America and mapped it over time. Literally. Bernard used digitized versions of old maps and traced each new segment by hand. Tedious, but the result is impressive.

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Natural selection simulation

Using blobbies with varying traits such as size, speed, and food gathering ability, Primer simulates natural selection in the explainer video below. Blobby.

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Animation in visualization, revisited a decade later

Rewind to 2006 when Hans Rosling’s talk using moving bubbles was at peak attention. Researchers studied whether animation in visualization was a good thing. Danyel Fisher revisits their research a decade later.

While they found that readers didn’t get much more accuracy from the movement versus other method, there was a big but:

But we also found that users really liked the animation view: Study participants described it as “fun”, “exciting”, and even “emotionally touching.” At the same time, though, some participants found it confusing: “the dots flew everywhere.”

This is a dilemma. Do we make users happy, or do we help them be effective? After the novelty effect wears off, will we all wake up with an animation hangover and just want our graphs to stay still so we can read them?

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