Designing the impossible – a simple chart that interprets a mountain of data

Artists Shan Carter and Amanda Cox created the interactive chart in the video I’ve embedded below. (Added later: There is now a permanent spot for the graphic on NYTimes.com: here.) It is appearing this afternoon on the front page of NYTimes.com and interprets exit polling data from the entire Democratic Party presidential primary campaign. My video is a quick screencast (a video screengrab) of me clicking through the tabs of data that are displayed in the graphic. (What I didn’t show was how a cursor-hover reveals data related to each state box.)

I believe it’s an impressive (dazzling) use of subtle interactive-animation and information design that effectively translates a mountain of incomprehensible data into an understandable statistical narrative. I’m especially struck by the way the NYTimes artists eschewed colors and relied on the animation and the relative placement of data to interpret the statistics. For a chart junkie (I confess), I’m impressed that it is strongly visual, yet at the same time, is very “un” info-graphic. This is serious information design porn, in other words. (For future readers, today is the last day of the marathon 2008 Democratic Party presidential primary campaign.)

Credits that appeared with the graphic: Source: Edison/Mitofsky exit poll Design: Shan Carter and Amanda Cox