As a visually oriented species, we grasp information much more quickly and easily when it’s presented as a picture than when we’re given lists of numbers. That’s why we find bar graphs and pie charts so useful. But often there are even better ways to visualize data.

I plan to use this blog post as a collection point for links to creative and effective data visualizations, and will add to it whenever I come across something interesting and relevant. If you happen across anything you think I should add, please let me know. I welcome suggestions.

Of course, Edward Tufte is a master of this field.

I’m also curious about any work that’s been done to create effective “visualizations” of data for the blind and visually impaired.


A Perspective on Time, by Wait But Why

The Universe

Interactive Scale of the Universe – and – Scale of the Universe II

Tour of our stellar neighborhood (requires Chrome or other WebGL browser)

Planets, Sun, and Star Sizes Animated

Animation of all the asteroids around us we can’t see

Interactive 3D animation of asteroids

Our solar system as a vortex

Our galaxy as a vortex

Travel through the solar system at the speed of light

If the moon were only 1 pixel: A tediously accurate scale model of the solar system

Phases of the Moon in 2016

Visualization of the earth and its place in the universe

Powers of Ten – the classic short movie

Our Physical World

Lakes and Oceans Comparative Depth Diagram, by XKCD

How the Earth would look without oceans

Earth’s Water as a Sphere – and – Earth’s Water as a Cube, by Wait But Why

Periodic table of the elements stretched to show their abundance on the earth’s surface

Perpetual Ocean: Animated ocean currents, by NASA

Wind Currents in the U.S. – Nearly real time animation by Viegas & Wattenberg.

Global Wind Currents

Lightning strikes in North America in real time

NOAA Weatherview – animated views of the globe

Animation of every recorded earthquake in sequence as they occurred from January 1, 2001, through December 31, 2015, at a rate of 30 days per second. Description of the video is here.

Dynamic, data-driven maps from National Atlas


Money: A Chart of all of it, where it is, and what it can do, by XKCD

Visualization of United States debt

Visualizing Obama’s budget cuts using pennies

Income Inequality in the United States

Human Population

Population Density – Interactive Map by Derek Watkins

Migration in the United States – Interactive map.

The U.S. redrawn as 50 states with equal population

World Population History, 1 CE to 2050 CE

Animated map of religions spreading across the world, 3000 BCE to the present


Causes of Untimely Death Worldwide

Traffic Fatalities in the United States

Historical Worldwide Death Toll Comparisons

Other Stuff

The OneZoom Tree of Life Explorer – Interactive map of evolution and species

Health Supplements: Interactive chart of scientific evidence by David McCandless

The changing American diet, 1970-2013

Real-time visualization of flights in progress world wide

Infographic of all active satellites orbiting the earth

Time Lapse Map of Nuclear Explosions

Crayola Color Chronology

The New York Subway as Cello

Evolution of Dance Music

Dan Meyer’s Personal Annual Report, 2009 (video)

Sites with Many Visualizations

Derek Watson Map-based visualizations, including history of expansion of the U.S. by post offices, generic terms for streams, and others.

Global Incident Maps Near real-time maps showing earthquakes, disease outbreaks, HAZMAT situations, and other incidents.

Fernanda Viegas & Martin Wattenberg Many cultural and commercial design data visualizations. Flesh maps, phrase nets, color use, and more.

David McCandless – Information Is Beautiful

Animated math visualizations


Ten Tools for Creating Infographics and Visualizations


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