M-o-t-i-o-n graphs, animating static data

5 10 2009

In class today we were tasked with making a motion graph. What is a motion graph? I shall explain. Basically, it is a graph where data is entered into a regular spreadsheet. Each of the columns that the data is positioned inside act as individual data groupings. From there, the data is entered into a program such as Google Motion Chart tool where there relationship shared among the data points is essentially animated. Essentially, think of a typical scatter plot graph but jazzed up with a dash of interactivity. What would have appeared as just numbers in a column now morphs to represent changing dynamics over a period of time. Granted, you do not have to enter data that reflects changes over a chronological period, I just use that here as an example.

These charts are a neat tool with little advanced skills needed by the user. It is helpful though to watch tutorial footage or read step-by-step examples of how others have utilized the graphing interface simply because the data does need to be entered in a manner than allows the relationships between data to be animated. To this degree, there is a little learning curve but it is more semantics than anything else. The relative concept behind these charts is easy, it represents a unique way of showcasing trends that may not otherwise be apparent. Furthermore, it is quite engaging when watching shapes, colors and positions of data points transform before your very eyes. Check out an example here of a chart demonstrating the changes in the relationship of unemployment rates and housing prices among states.

In some ways, I am surprised motion graphs are not more commonly used to represent data relationships. In terms of engagement, they seem to get the job done. They are more interesting than a grouping of numbers on a page, in my humble opinion. Perhaps, people are not aware that free tools allowing anyone to create these graphs exist online? I cannot say for sure. I am going to pay closer attention when I do see a motion chart used, as I will likely be more interested in what it is representing than static numbers on a page.

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One response

7 10 2009
andersj

Smart extension from what you are picking up in the program!

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