Friday, May 4, 2012

Titanic Graphics - Past and Present

One of the blogs I follow is Flowing Data, a data visualization blog by Nathan Yau.  The graphics vary widely in content but are quite often very visually striking, and I think even artistic (but maybe I'm a geek that way).  Usually the things that catch my eye are more closely related to my day job than my genealogy work, but in the last couple of days Flowing Data has highlighted a couple of Titanic graphics.  The interesting thing is that the graphics not only illustrate the sinking of the Titanic clearly, albeit in different ways, but one graphic is present day (2012) and the other set of graphics was produced about 100 years ago (1912-1914).

Yesterday Flowing Data posted a parallel set graph illustrating the demographics (sex, age, class) of Titanic's survivors vs non-survivors.  I find it very striking visually, though not necessarily intuitive to understand.  Heading over to the original graphic at Jason Davies' site is more helpful as Davies explains the parallel concept and points out some of the obvious conclusions to be drawn.  His chart is interactive - giving statistics that pop up as parts of the graph are moused over and allowing the viewer to toggle views to curves and icicle plots.  I actually find the icicle plot version easiest to understand, though enjoy trying to wrap my mind around the parallel data.  (According to the comments on the Flowing Data post, there are better uses for parallel data, and I'd be interested to see an example.)

[I badly want to reproduce Davies' graphic here to illustrate the dynamics between the 1912 and 2012 graphs, but for copyright reasons will not, and strongly encourage anyone interested to head over to his site at]

Contrast this with the Titanic graphics Flowing Data linked to todayPosted on Infographics news by Chiqui Esteban, there are 7 illustrations of the Titanic and its sinking, many having been originally published in The Graphic.   Esteban explains that the originals were published either in 1912 and/or in 1914 and explains that while they don't have today's flash and interactivity of graphics, effectively illustrate the Titanic's sinking.

From: Titanic infographics. From 1912, by Chiqui Esteban at Infographics news (Originally published in The Graphic)

I think one of the most striking of the "vintage graphics" is the above cross-section of Titanic showing the interior areas of the ship hit by the iceberg.

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