Watching the evolution of the “Origin of Species”

September 17th, 2009

A new project depicting how Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” changed over time:

traces

We often think of scientific ideas, such as Darwin’s theory of evolution, as fixed notions that are accepted as finished. In fact, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species evolved over the course of several editions he wrote, edited, and updated during his lifetime. The first English edition was approximately 150,000 words and the sixth is a much larger 190,000 words. In the changes are refinements and shifts in ideas — whether increasing the weight of a statement, adding details, or even a change in the idea itself.

The idea that we can actually see change over time in a person’s thinking is fascinating. Darwin scholars are of course familiar with this story, but here we can view it directly, both on a macro-level as it animates, or word-by-word as we examine pieces of the text more closely.

Cross-posted with more details here.

Health Numbers in Context

August 26th, 2009

As a continuation of this project, we’ve just finished a second health visualization using GE’s data. Like the first round, we started with ~6 million patient records from their “MQIC” database. Using the software, you input gender, age range, height/weight (to calculate BMI), and smoking status. Based on the selections it shows you the number of people in the database that match those settings, and the percentages that have been diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, or have had a stroke:

your health visualizer

(More background on how the piece was created can be found here.)

Comorbidity: it’s no longer just for physicians and statisticians

May 18th, 2009

A simple, interactive means for seeing connections between demographics, diseases, and diagnoses:

Health Visualizer

We developed this project for GE as part of the launch of their new health care initiative. With the input and guidance of a handful of departments within the company, we began by looking at their proprietary database of 14 million patient records looking for ways to show connections between related conditions. For instance, we wanted visitors to the site to be able to learn how diabetes diagnoses increase along with obesity, but convey it in a manner that didn’t feel like a math lesson. By cycling through the eight items at the top (and the row beneath it), you can make several dozen comparisons, highlighting what’s found in actual patient data. At the bottom, some additional background is provided based on various national health care studies.

Connections at Davos

February 2nd, 2009

output-work12-cmyk-1000pxOur first public piece, developed in January, was created for the printed program at the World Economic Forum’s 2009 meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

With 180 sessions over the course of several days, made up of hundreds of participants, connections between sessions and themes are too complicated to be immediately apparent. The Forum sought a way to depict the interrelationships between concepts and ideas covered during the course of the week.

The image shows keywords found in session descriptions, sized by frequency of their overall use. Arcs colored according to one six themes connect keywords most frequently found together in the descriptions, with the thickness of each arc determined by how often the pairing appears throughout the program.

The final image is intended to highlight keywords and connections in an visually engaging way, while also revealing the complexity beneath.

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