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.)