Visualizing 138 Years of Popular Science
Jer Thorp, data artist in-residence at The New York Times, worked with Popular Science’s magazine archive to visualize how different technologies have emerged over the years.
The results can be seen in some 140+ images over on Flickr.
Near the end of the summer, I was asked by the publishers of Popular Science magazine to produce a visualization piece that explored the archive of their publication. PopSci has a history that spans almost 140 years, so I knew there would be plenty of material to draw from. Working with Mark Hansen, I ended up making a graphic that showed how different technical and cultural terms have come in and out of use in the magazine since it’s inception.
The graphic is anchored by a kind of molecular chain – decade clusters in turn contain year clusters. Every atom in these year clusters is a single issue of the magazine, and is shaded with colours extracted from the issue covers via a colour clustering routine. The size of the issue-atoms is determined by the number of words in each issue.