Tuesday, June 04, 2019

These Data Maps are Beautiful

The Geographies of Innovation interactive maps are fantastic works of art. I'd definitely hang them on my walls. But do they work as data visualizations?

Geographies of Innovation is a series of beautiful looking data visualizations exploring where innovative initiatives in Barcelona are located. It includes four different map views of innovative companies in the city, examining how different factors influence the location of these companies. These layers examine the socio-demographic context, the urban fabric, the functional indicators (infrastructure) and spatial organisation (network).

I think it is fair to say that some of the design choices made in the creation of these maps were based more on aesthetic than legibility concerns. However despite the artistic choices of colors and the lack of place labels the maps still work as data visualizations. For example the map above is an effective visualization of the spatial organization of innovative companies. The different colored circles indicate different types of companies and allow you to see where different types of innovative companies cluster in the city.

However some of the map layers can be difficult to read. The map keys and the use of mouse-overs on the map help to some extent. Each map layer also comes with a very brief introduction. These are visually attractive maps but they are also visually complex as well. I definitely think a longer pop-up walk-through tutorial for each layer would be very useful for the user.

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