La idea de “mapas esquemáticos” ya estaba rondando en mi cabeza

iPhone’s New Maps Might Look Like Your Napkin Doodles

Apple’s latest patent for “schematic maps” could dramatically simplify the interface of its Maps app.

The Google-powered precision of the Maps app for iPhone and iPad is so ubiquitous that it’s hard to think of digital maps looking any other way. But Apple, preternatural innovator (and now-enemy of Google) that it is, may change that perception soon. A recent patent application uncovered by AppleInsider describes something called “schematic maps,” which is a fancy way of saying that when you launch Maps on your future iPhone 6, what you see may look more like it was scrawled on the back of a napkin than generated by satellite.

The basic idea of “schematic maps” is that maps on smartphones these days are too info-dense. Think about it: When you boot up Maps on your iPhone, you see a whole universe of information that’s not directly relevant to the task of getting from point A to point B: streets 10 blocks away that you’ll won’t cross, names of businesses you didn’t ask for, even the ghostly 3-D shapes of buildings.



Compare that to what you’d do if a friend asked you to draw them a map: You’d sketch out a diagram (probably not to scale) of the main street(s) between point A and point B, throw in a few hash marks to represent relevant cross streets, and maybe a box or “X” along the way to indicate landmarks for orientation–and that’s it. Much less information, and not accurate to the meter, but much more direct. (These “strip maps” are actually so efficient that the Army teaches tank drivers and soldiers to draw them correctly.)

That’s what Apple wants to do with schematic maps: make its Maps app act less like a server-powered Eye of Sauron and more like your friend scribbling on a bar napkin. Obviously the final product of whatever “schematic maps” turns out to be will look much nicer than these patent illustrations. But not by much, at least not in functional terms: the whole idea is to make them as diagrammatically uber-simplified as possible. And with less screen space devoted to rendering accurate-but-irrelevant information, more can be devoted to displaying useful markups to the schematic, like a line that says “11 miles” to visually indicate how long you should stay on Main Street before you hit that T-intersection. Or displaying your final destination as a nice big box on the map instead of a tiny red pin. The latter is “correct”; but the former, especially on a teensy screen that you have to stab at with big sausage-fingers, may be more useful.



Of course, by throwing away all that “irrelevant” information and scale-accuracy, schematic maps will have to be very, very good at parsing the input given to them — because everything in the periphery of Point A and Point B will be invisible (or incomprehensible, given the scale distortions). That’s one good thing about Google-style digital maps: If you change your mind in midstream, or just want to explore them in an open-ended way, you’ve got unlimited freedom; the app doesn’t try to “think” for you. Apple, of course, goes the opposite direction: Its relentless march towards unifying and simplifying its iOS and OS X interfaces means that “thinking for you” is an unavoidable part of the deal. (Granted, you can imagine all sorts of clever ways that Apple might allow a map to load only the data you want. Imagine if tapping on another, less detailed area brought it into higher relief, with new landmarks.)

Will schematic maps cause jubilation or scorn among users? As with every innovative interface, the answer is probably both.

[Read more at AppleInsider; Top image by JD Hancock]


Nuevos enfoques en visualización de datos

Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Data presentation can be beautiful, elegant and descriptive. There is a variety of conventional ways to visualize data – tables, histograms, pie charts and bar graphs are being used every day, in every project and on every possible occasion. However, to convey a message to your readers effectively, sometimes you need more than just a simple pie chart of your results. In fact, there are much better, profound, creative and absolutely fascinating ways to visualize data. Many of them might become ubiquitous in the next few years.

So what can we expect? Which innovative ideas are already being used? And what are the most creative approaches to present data in ways we’ve never thought before?

Let’s take a look at the most interesting modern approaches to data visualization as well as related articles, resources and tools.

1. Mindmaps

Trendmap 2007

Webtrends2007 in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches presents the 200 most successful websites on the web, ordered by category, proximity, success, popularity and perspective in a mindmap. Apparently, web-sites are connected as they’ve never been before. Quite comprehnsive.

2. Displaying News

Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator. The size of data blocks is defined by their popularity at the moment.

Newsmap in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Voyage is an RSS-feader which displays the latest news in the “gravity area”. News can be zoomed in and out. The navigation is possible with a timeline.

Voyage in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Digg BigSpy arranges popular stories at the top when people digg them. Bigger stories have more diggs.

Diggbigspy in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Digg Stack: Digg stories arrange themselves as stack as users digg them. The more diggs a story gets, the larger is the stack.

Stack in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

3. Displaying Data

Amaztype, a typographic book search, collects the information from Amazon and presents it in the form of keyword you’ve provided. To get more information about a given book, simply click on it.

Amaztype in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Similar idea is being used by Flickrtime. The tool uses Flickr API to present the uploaded images in real-time. The images form the clock which shows the current time.

Flickrtime in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Time Magazine uses visual hills (spikes) to emphasize the density of American population in its map.

Us in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

CrazyEgg lets you explore the behavior of your visitors with a heat map. More popular sections, which are clicked more often, are highlighted as “warm” – in red color.

Heatmap in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Hans Rosling TED Talk is a legendary talk of the Swedish professor Hans Rosling, in which he explains a new way of presenting statistical data. His Trendalyzer software (recently acquired by Google) turns complex global trends into lively animations, making decades of data pop. Asian countries, as colorful bubbles, float across the grid — toward better national health and wealth. Animated bell curves representing national income distribution squish and flatten. In Rosling’s hands, global trends — life expectancy, child mortality, poverty rates – become clear, intuitive and even playful.

Hansrosling in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Three Views shows three views of the earth, in which each country is represented by a circle that shows the amount of money spent on the military (size of circle) and what fraction of the country’s earnings that uses (colour). Compact and beautiful presentation of data.

Arms in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

We Feel Fine shows human feelings, calculated from a large number of weblogs.

Madness in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Visualizing the Power Struggle in Wikipedia displays the most popular articles and the most frequent search queries in the heatmap.

Wikipedia1 in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Wikipedia2 in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Websites as graphs. An HTML DOM Visualizer Applet, which displays sites as graphs depending on the amount of links, tables, div tags, images, forms and other tags.

Graphs in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Interactive History Timeline presents the history of Great Britain, divided into interactive data blocks. The density of events is displayed on the map.

British in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Winning Lotto Numbers is supposed to present the frequency of appearance of every number from one year to the next one. This graph is definitely not one of the most clear ones.

Lotto in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Elastic Lists demonstrates the “elastic list” principle for browsing multi-facetted data structures. You can click any number of list entries to query the database for a combination of the selected attributes. The approach visualizes relative proportions (weights) ofmetadata by size and visuzalizes characteristicness of a metadata weight by brightness. Author’s blog regularly informs about new experiments in the area of data visualization. Nice to observe, useful to bookmark.

Elasticlists in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

The JFK Assassination TimelineAn Ajax-based approach vor visual presentation of historical events. John F. Kennedy assassination as timeline with numerous presentation options. The related article with further examples.

4. Displaying connections

Munterbund showcases the results of research graphical visualization of text similarities in essays in a book. “The challenge is to find forms of graphical and/or typographical representation of the essays that are both appealing and informative. We have attempted create a system which automatically generates graphics according to predefined rules.”

Buurman2 in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Buurman in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Buurman3 in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Burst Labs suggests similar or connected items to your search queries (favourite artists, tv shows, movies, genres etc.) in a bubble. Not really new, but still inspiring.

Burstlabs in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Universe DayLife displays events, connections and news as circles which gravitate around the topic they are related to.

Universe in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Musiclens gives music recommendations and presents your current mood and musical taste as a diagram.

Musiclens in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Figd’t Visualizer allows you to play around with your network. You interface with the Visualizer through Flickr and LastFM tags, using any tag to create a Magnet. Once a Tag Magnet is created, members of the network will gravitate towards it if they have photos or music with that same Tag. Available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. Alpha-version.

Fidgt in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

What have I been listening to?: Lee Byron describes his approach of creating a histogram about his music listening history.

Lastfm in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Shape Of Song: What does music look like? The Shape of Song is an attempt to answer this seemingly paradoxical question. The custom software in this work draws musical patterns in the form of translucent arches, allowing viewers to see – literally – the shape of any composition available on the Web.

Shapeofsong in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Musicmap: connections are represented as connected lines; they create a web.

U2 in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Musicovery displays music taste connections and lets you listen to the song and browse through similar songs.

Musicovery in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Lanuage Poster proves that even simple lines can be descriptive enough. The History of Programming Languages as an original timeline.

Program in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

5. Displaying web-sites

Spacetime offers Google, Yahoo, Flickr, eBay and images in 3D. The tool displays all of your search results in an easy to view elegant 3D arrangement. Company promises that the days of mining through pages and pages of tiny thumbnails in an effort to find the item you are looking for are over.

Spacetime in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

UBrowser is an open source test mule that renders interactive web pages onto geometry using OpenGL® and an embedded instance of Gecko, the Mozilla rendering engine.

Ubrowser in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

6. Articles & Resources

    Vc in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches
    The project presents the most beautiful methods of data visualization as well as further references and book suggestions. The gallery has over 450 entries.
  • In his article Infosthetics: the beauty of data visualization Andrew Vande Moere, well-known through his blog Infosthetics, discusses the aesthetics of data visualization and modern apparoaches in this area. Creative design ideas combine form and content and generate fascinating graphs – is it a new area in the art of next generation?Infosthetics02 in Data Visualization: Modern ApproachesInfosthetics08 in Data Visualization: Modern ApproachesInfosthetics09 in Data Visualization: Modern ApproachesThe article presents 13 new techniques of data visualization, with examples and further references.
  • 16 Awesome Data Visualization Tools
    “From navigating the Web in entirely new ways to seeing where in the world twitters are coming from, data visualization tools are changing the way we view content. We found the following 16 apps both visually stunning and delightfully useful.” An extensive overview by
  • Dataesthetics
    Eric Blue provides some references to unusual Data Visualization methods.
  • infosthetics – information aesthetics
    Docuburst in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches
    Andrew Vande Moere about data visualization, latest development and design ideas.
  • Visualizing Delicious Roundup
    An overview of tools you can use to visualize your bookmarks.
  • Periodic Table
    A periodic table of visualization methods.
    Periodic in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

7. Tools and Services

  • You can create your own timelines with Xtimeline and Circavie.
  • IBM Many Eyes
    Ibm in Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

    This Java-based service visualizes data online and helps to create pie charts, diagrams, tree maps, bar charts and histograms. Registration is required. Some examples are simply amazing.
  • prefuse | the prefuse visualization toolkit
    Presents the beta-version of a Java-based toolkit for programming of application with integrated data visualization methods
  • Swivel
    This service creates pie charts, diagrams and histograms “on the fly”. It also provides a Swivel API you can use to improve already existing visualization methods.
  • You can find even more tools for designing your own diagrams and charts online in our article Charts and Diagrams Tools.


Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine, an online magazine dedicated to designers and developers.

Mapeando un año de corridas

Infographic Of The Day: Using Nike+ To Map A Year Of Running

The design collective YesYesNo created interactive maps showing where runners in New York, London, and Tokyo go.

Running has always seemed like pure masochism to me, but for many urbanites it’s the best and only way to get daily exercise. Seeing a whole city’s worth of this activity, over a whole year, paints the urban landscape in a whole new light — which was exactly the effect that interactive design collective YesYesNo was going for in their visualization for Nike, which used anonymous data from Nike+ users in New York, London, and Tokyo to paint synapse-like trails over the cityscapes.



The visualization was installed on three screens in Nike’s Soho-based store in Manhattan, displaying “the day from morning to night, showing a year’s worth of runs played out at the same time of day,” says YesYesNo partner Theodore Watson. “The software follows a single run from start till completion. When the run is finished it finds the next nearby run and follows that one.
If it is waiting to pick up a new run it zooms out, showing an overview of the entire city.”

There’s surprising visual drama in watching a pulsing blob of white light course around a map of Manhattan like a lightcycle inTron: You can’t help but imagine the real, live person pounding the pavement block after block. While the screens in the Soho store were configured to “run on autopilot,” Watson says that “the software is designed to be interactive and navigated by visitors.” It sounds a hell of a lot more entertaining than actually doing the running, but that’s just me.





[Read more about YesYesNo’s visualization here]