A few years ago, the Internet was awash in groundbreaking data visualizations. There was Aaron Koblin’s deeply influential map of flight patterns around the U.S. Periscopic’s exhaustive, haunting portrait of gun violence in the United States. Jer Thorp and John Underkoffler’s Minority Report-like interface for exploring the galaxy.
Today, you’d be lucky to find a cheap knockoff in a world dominated by crappy promotional infographics churned out for viral attention. Nicholas Felton, the data viz guru who once designed Facebook’s Timeline, now builds apps. Jer Thorp is as interested in reverse-engineering algorithms and data art as he is in producing pure data visualization. Even the infographics on the portfolio-sharing site Behance are on the downswing. “Infographic posting generally rose steadily from 2007 to 2012, where it peaked, and has begun to decline since then,” Sarah Rapp, Head of Behance Community Data & Insights, Adobe, writes in an email.