Some of my favorite characters in movies aren’t people, they’re GUIs (graphical user interfaces). In Iron Man, Stark’s robot butler named Jarvis is represented as a wonderfully snarky and futuristic UI. I recently saw a movie called Sidewalls where the main character was an architect and she would see the sketches behind the buildings. In Stranger than Fiction the GUI transports you into the mind of a compulsive IRS agent. It’s wonderfully appealing, see for yourself:
(I only picked up Pale King because I thought it would be similar, let me know if it isn’t). The recent British Sherlock Holmes show, Sherlock employs a similar trick. All of these UIs, as I’m calling them, display more information on the screen than you would otherwise see, but in a way that doesn’t feel cluttered or unecessary.
Lately I have been really enjoying these older data visualizations at A Handsome Atlas. Infographics and maps overlap in some very interesting ways. Good Magazine consistently does this well, as does the NYTimes Online. Here are some interesting visualizations of New York, and maps made by local artists/designers Sha Hwang and Eric Fischer. It seems like a designer’s job is to balance, usability, aesthetics and economy, is a cartographer a designer too? How is their job different?