At VisualCue, we love data visualization; it’s our entire world. We live, breath, eat, sleep, and occasionally dream about it.

As such, it’s not uncommon for The VisualCrew (that’s what we call ourselves, t-shirts and hats are in the offing) to pass around our favorite visualizations we’ve stumbled across.

We figured it would be a shame to let all of this amazing work go unnoticed so we decided to share the top 5 visualizations that have intrigued and inspired us with you!

The City of Angels

LA Data Visualization
The colors correspond to when a building was constructed.

Los Angeles is an amazing city, right? To prove it, City Hub LA created this amazing map showing when the majority of the city’s over 2.8 million buildings were constructed. It’s amazing to see how different neighborhoods sprung up over the course of time.

It would be great to travel to LA and tour some of these boroughs and see the architectural changes as they evolved!

Our Universal Neighborhood

A map of the neighboring stars
What you’re seeing is a scaled version of our galactic neighborhood

Good visualizations give numbers context. They remove a layer of abstraction standing between you and actually understanding information.

This visualization from the Google Data Arts team does just that. It’s jaw-droopingly amazing, great for clicking around and getting some information about our cosmic neighbors.

We recommend starting with Earth and then zooming out. Just let your mind boggle at the sheer amount of information you’re looking at and the incredible size of the Universe. Then move on before you start to feel too small.

In fact, anything by the Google Data Arts Team is great. See more of there work here (presented, naturally, in a unique dataviz.)

State Delicacies

A map showing popular foods by state
What’s the most popular food in your state?

On the surface, this map from may look like your average, run-of-the-mill map showing unique and popular food from state to state and not necessarily worthy of inclusion on this list (especially considering the scope of the previous one.) But, drill down on a particular state and it will not only tell you what’s popular but  the best places to actually buy the food!

We’re planning a Conch Fritters trip immediately.

Data and Film, Together At Last

A data visualization of film gender tropes
Which types do we consider more masculine or feminine?

A great data visualization can be like a park or a museum, inviting you to get lost in its paths and hallways, discovering new things. Hopefully, those things will lead you to be smarter or better at something. At least more well-informed.

Such is the case with Stereotropes and their huge visualization detailing common gender tropes. This amazing site actually identifies the common characters and themes relating to gender across thousands of films. Ever wonder how many times a “Mama Bear” or “Papa Wolf” character has appeared, and in which movies? They’ve got the answer.

The Fallen of WWII

A WWII casualties data visualization
Putting the true cost of one of humanity’s worst conflicts into perspective

Ultimately, good data visualization puts numbers into perspective. An especially useful feature in a world where it is so easy to gloss over numbers relating to tragedy or devastation.

We read words or see numbers that say how many villages were destroyed or people died, but don’t really comprehend it. That’s because we can’t see it in context and don’t understand the impact. Entire branches of philosophy and art have been dedicated to making numbers more impactful.

Neil Halloran made this experiment to put some important things in context for us.  Part film, part interactive visualization, it shows us just how powerful data visualization can be, and how it can provide hope for the future.

Context, perspective, information, those are the kinds of benefits that a truly great, innovative visualization can give you.

It’s good to know that we are not alone in the conviction that a great data visualization can help everyone lead more productive, interesting lives.

Do you  have a data visualization that inspired you? We’d love to see it! Leave a link in the comments or Tweet it with #Cuesday.

Keep consuming that data everybody,

The VisualCrew