Ben Fry's information design work.

The most innovative and practical thinkers of our time.
Aug. 16 2011 10:56 AM

Ben Fry at Work

A few of the information designer's most fascinating projects.

Here are a few of Ben Fry's most fascinating information design projects.

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Julia Turner Julia Turner

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.

On the Origin of the Species: The Preservation of Favoured Traces This interactive shows Darwin's revisions to On the Origin of the Species over 14 years and six editions. As the interactive plays, the various colors represent additions and amendments to the work. Mousing over allows the user to see what text was added when, including the addition of a key "by the Creator" in the finale of the second edition. (Click the image below to try the interactive.)

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Zipdecode Fry notes that in the world of interactive information design, work comes in many different scales—some projects are more like novels, some more like haiku. This nifty widget falls more at the haiku end of the spectrum, allowing users to visualize how America's ZIP codes correspond to geographic reality. The ones that start with 0 are in New England, and the 9 s are in California, but where are the 4 s? (Click the image below to try the interactive.)

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Genomic Cartography: Chromosome 21 This installation charts our understanding of the human genome (and how much we have yet to understand). It uses a tiny, custom three-pixel font to display just one-quarter of the letters of genetic code from chromosome 21 on a wall. The gray areas are the ones that "have no currently known function." (Click the image below to learn more about the project.).

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Education Nation Scorecard for Schools Ben Fry's firm Fathom made this tool for NBC, with funding from the Gates Foundation and data from GreatSchools. It helps make school performance data accessible to parents and students all over the country. Type in your ZIP code and find out how your local schools are doing. (Click the image below to try the interactive.)

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The First Case of Ebola in America Has Been Diagnosed in Dallas

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Mad About Modi


Why the controversial Indian prime minister drew 19,000 cheering fans to Madison Square Garden.


Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Don’t Panic! The U.S. Already Stops Ebola and Similar Diseases From Spreading. Here’s How.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.