[This is a guest post by Dafna Aizenberg*, showing us her recent infographic project, Atlas of the World Wide Web]
The Internet and the World Wide Web have always fascinated me as well as consumed a major portion of my time and attention, either during mu studies, work assignments or personal life. So when I started searching for an idea for my final project in Shenkar, my immediate attention went towards the cyber world. The strongest feelings I got were that the Internet has revolutionized our lives in so many ways, but still its influence has not been reflected on our ancient databases of the world – maps. Furthermore, trends occurring in the cyber world often contradict or at least deform traditional concepts such as borders, nationalities, distances.
Still, when contemplating my first drafts I decided that I’d like my project to be approachable and simple (much like the web itself), so in order to achieve this goal I’ve decided to use the basic outline of the known physical map, creating a reference to something familiar and allowing fast conclusion drawing. If I was to re-organize and the world or create new abstract objects reflecting my gathered data, the reader would have probably needed to work harder in order to draw conclusions on the Internet’s Impact on our lives.
Another major decision was to produce a printed book. Some might say a topic such as “Atlas of the Web” must be dynamically presented over an interactive GUI, hosted on a website. However, by producing a printed book I managed to create a nostalgic feeling, taking the reader back to his childhood – a time most of us were enchanted from big books with huge maps of the world. In addition, it is the dynamic nature of the Internet I wanted to freeze, this way the reader is not preoccupied in the fast pace of changes – his whole attention is devoted to the data at a singular point
in time, allowing reflection on the journey we underwent in the past 30 years.
The design concept was to try and mimic a generative system as much as possible – one that is influenced by the data inserted to it, with objects responding to trend changes. Since I was not going to use an automated system, I did my best at creating a manual generative theme. This included a lot of time spent on trying to find the suitable scale to describe the data at hand – for example, which scale should be used to describe amount of IP addresses per country: the numbers show that no country is even close to the amount of addresses the USA has, but still I didn’t want to have a map just showing the USA, with all other countries as irrelevant dots. I’ve found no automated tool which could have created the same look and feel of the manually drawn maps, so I was left with Adobe’s Illustrator and InDesign – which are not optimal to be used with such detailed objects on a personal computer but in the end (after a couple of painful reboots) produced the desired product.
A major challenge I faced was to match the right shape to each of the objects I designed, while both keeping the shape basic and simple and choosing the shape which can be associated with the term. The spam map together with the virus attack maps are fine examples of a simple shape (straight lines, stars) that correlates with the term it is describing.
In addition to the visual objects, I’ve decided at an early stage to include inserts with textual data gathered from Wikipedia, describing and elaborating on the terms used in the following chapter. With these inserts I’ve not only contrasted the visually packed images, but also provided basic information on terms not all people find simple and trivial. This continued the line of making every effort so the reader could draw meaningful insights from the maps.
A mandatory step in any successful project is extensive data collection. I’ve defined initial chapter division, knowing it would probably be adjusted as we encounter unexpected data, and tasked my man, who is a software engineer by education, to go on a hunt for data. Together we have covered many blogs, scientific articles, commercial databases and existing mapping layers published by individuals on geo-systems such as Google’s WebGL.
I am currently in the process of making the Atlas commercially available. If you wish to get notified on purchasing options, please visit www.atlasofthewww.com and Sign up for updates!
*Dafna Aizenberg is a graphic designer graduated from Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, Department of Visual Communication. Living in Tel Aviv, Dafna is taking her first steps at the commercial design world, working in a leading Tel Aviv based branding and advertising agency “Open”. Dafna also spends time photographing, exploring the internet and listening to a wide variety of music genres – trying to collect new inspirations from whatever is at hand.You can see more of her work in her portfolio page, and don’t forget to visit the Atlas of the World Wide Web website.