Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Visualizing the Decline of Empires

Pedro Cruz created a visualization of the land mass gained and lost by the British, French, Portuguese, and Spanish empires over the years. Colonies separate from their colonizers and bounce around for a little while before fading away. Land mass is shown by the size of the circles representing the empires, and the years tick by in the lower left corner of the screen.

Here in 1936, we can see the recently-separated masses of South Africa, Canada, and Iraq, color-coded to match the parent node of Britain, bouncing around. At the same time, Australia (not yet labeled) begins to bulge out of the side of the British Empire in anticipation of its own imminent release.

There is just something that is really satisfying about watching the little colonies swell up and burst out of the empires.

Read more about it and watch the video here, and check out an updated version of the visualization here. The updated version has the added bonus of keeping the former colonies onscreen (as outlines, and with labels that fade away after a few moments), and having them migrate to their geographical locations.