You know that at VisualCue we love all things data visualization- and on Fridays we celebrate our unabashed enthusiasm for all things data visualization by finding the best, most interesting uses of data from around the Internet and sharing them with you!

This Friday we’re thinking about traveling through time with data! One of our favorite experiments is one of the most engaging, musical data visualizations around, and something that will fast become our favorite radio station: lightyear.fm

Wonder what they’re listening to on Alpha Centauri

Lightyear.fm is a fantastic experiment and one of the most creative uses of data that we’ve ever seen. The creators took data on top songs played on the radio during every single year of U.S. radio broadcasting. They then calculated how far those radio waves would travel through space.

The really engaging thing about this experiment is that rather than just listing it out in some graph or chart, they created an entire website that visualizes what it’s like to travel back in musical history as you simultaneously travel through space.

Good to know that Harry James is still popular...
Good to know that Harry James is still popular… 70 light years away

There are so many elements to admire here- the sheer math, history and technical proficiency required to put this website together but also the added educational benefit of showing information on nearby stars when you hover your mouse.

But what’s so special about this visualization, what about it particularly inspired us- the answer is simple. Immersion! A beautiful representation of space fills your entire screen while the music slowly fades in and fills your ears. The result is a fun, surreal, calming experience that prompts you to think that perhaps somewhere, somehow, this song is traveling on radio waves so far from where it originated.

It inspires us to continue creating immersive, colorful, engaging data visualizations that inspire change. And it also inspired us to blow the dust off the old records and listen in!

Until next time,

The VisualCrew