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verb. to discover by looking carefully

Ever wonder what goes into building an effective visualization? Look no further. We decided to roll up our sleeves and explore the topic. We're calling it Project Descry.

Project Descry demonstrates the power of data and information visualization as a communication tool. As a part of Descry, we are releasing a set of open source, web-based visualizations and an article written by the Jon Udell that serves as a broad introduction to the topic.

The Visualizations

  • The Obesity Epidemic

    You've probably heard that there's an obesity epidemic going on in the United States. Every wondered how bad it is? We mined the data from a CDC study on the topic and its unnerving.

    This visualization takes an interactive infographic approach to presenting the obesity trend in the US since the mid-eighties. Each state is represented by a tee shirt, and the size of the tee shirt is proportional to the percentage of population that has a BMI over 30.

  • Their First Words

    It is said that a presidents first 100 days in office are a good indicator of the term to come. If so, what do their first words tell us?

    Their First Words lets you explore every inaugural speech since George Washington's. Ever wondered who talked about "liberty" more than any other president? This visualization answers that by letting you query the set of speeches for a set of words and phrases that represent the notion of "liberty". If regular expressions are your thing, it accepts those, too.

  • A Website Named Desire

    Sometimes the best possible way to visualize something really complex is to create a high-resolution supergraphic. But then you are faced with the problem of sharing it over the Internet.

    A Website Named Desire is a printed supergraphic that illustrates the process of launching a web site. This visualization allows you to explore a 100 megapixel digital version of the poster with interactive annotations to add context to the nuances of the illustration.

  • Social Timeline

    Your group of friends subscribe to numerous social networks making it difficult to keep track of what their up to. Wouldn't it be great to explore all the data in one place?

    Social Timeline presents an aggregation of your social network activity in the form of a timeline. It grabs the data from FriendFeed, plots it on a timeline and allows you to seamlessly navigate and filter it; all made possible by an intelligent combination of caching and virtualization built into the Social Timeline application.


If you're interested in creating similar visualizations, we recommend the following resources: