If you’ve browsed around the blog at all, you’ll soon realize that we here at VisualCue love data visualizations. We love talking about them, thinking about them, and we especially love sharing our favorites with you on Fridays!

This Friday, we’re thinking about time travel. Not time travel in the traditional, science-fiction sense but rather traveling through time by means of data visualization. With the right information and the right visualization you can peek into the past in ways you never thought imaginable.

How long would it take… in 1914?

Our first visualization comes to us from Simon Willis writing for The Economist. Well, technically it comes to us from John G. Bartholomew, Royal Cartographer to King George V. The map is an isochronic depiction of the earth in 1914, letting the reader know how long it would take to get from London to any point on the map.

The isochronic map of the world, in 1914
The isochronic map of the world, in 1914

But Willis is the one who brought it to our attention and pointed out something absolutely fascinating about it. Does anyone notice that long, thing slice of pink cutting through Russia or the one heading down the coast of Saudi Arabia? It turns out those were the most popular and useful rail and shipping lines of the day, making what would have been highly inaccessible areas suddenly open to the world.

It got us thinking: what would an isochronic map of the world look like today? With air travel and various electronic options we imagine it would be a lot less colorful.

Looking at this data visualization inspires us to wonder about those areas of our world that are still relatively inaccessible, and also admire anyone who made such an arduous journey into those deep blue areas of 1914.

Until next time,

The VisualCrew