The new VisualComplexity site seems to have been an instant hit, with everybody and their sister linking it. Is data visualization ready to hit entertainment mainstream? Will Ben Fry find a welcome side income from publishing posters that will adorn the walls of teenage abodes? Will budget art book publisher Taschen soon produce a glossy coffee table work on infoviz?
Perhaps not. But it’s interesting to note that News.com has added two visualization oldie goldies (the treemap and the associative network) to their traffic-driving sidebar. Such a move would have been considered daring only a few years ago. After all they make their money from page clicks and can’t afford to lose any. So it follows logically that they assume that using dynamic visualizations rather than lists of headlines will drive more traffic. Knowing the internet business, they’ve probably done usability studies on it too.
That diagrams are beautiful can’t be denied, though not always intentionally. On his tecznotes blog Michael Migurski posted a reference to this visually attractive 1981 visualization of flight traffic density between different cities. In low resolution it looks like a street art piece by the London Police.