Archive for the ‘Information Visualization’ Category

Exploring Europe

fredag, juni 3rd, 2011


Summer is upon us, and as most Norwegians, I am quite obsessed with getting enough of that treasured sun that hides from us all winter. In New York City, people don’t worry as much, but might rather complain when the heat is unbearable. However, while growing up in Oslo, I often traveled further south during summer to make sure I got a dose of that vitamin D.

For my final project in information visualization (taught by Nicholas Felton), I decided to visualize all my travels abroad from the day I was born. I didn’t leave Europe before coming to New York for grad school, so luckily all my travels fit nicely into a European map. But if I were to splash them all on the map at once, I don’t think it would be able to tell the story I wanted to tell with the data. You would see that I’m a fan of Italy, but it would get a bit too crowded to make sense of it all. That’s why I decided to create an animation.

Before I could do any coding, I needed to gather the data. I recorded how I traveled, for how long I stayed in each location, and I even added some notes to spice it up. To fill the 130 rows in this spreadsheet required a lot of work both for me and my family.

Then I could start experimenting in Processing to communicate the travel stories in the best way. I experimented with different line styles to illustrate different means of transportation, and used growing circles to illustrate how long I stayed in each location. I had to figure out how to fast forward during the «dull» periods* of traveling within Norway. I also added a dynamic list to display the latest locations visited. This is meant to also work as a key to understand the visualization better.

Here’s a snapshot, but if you want to join me on my journey of conquering European locations, you need to see it in action. Click the photo below to do so! (works best in Safari/Firefox)

*By not visualizing my traveling within Norway, I do not mean in any way that those vacations have not been as exciting as my travels abroad. There were just way too many of them to keep track! By limiting my travels to abroad travels, I’m pretty sure I have nailed them all down. Exceptions might be some trips to Sweden, as my parents have a cabin there.