Sunday, 2 May 2010

Culture Colours and Infographics

A graphic from the Information Is Beautiful blog has been doing the rounds lately. I first saw it on Apartment Therapy and decided to have a little grumble about it. Then it got some coverage on the Junk Charts blog. I decided to get the raw data and see what it looked like in a more informative presentation.

But how to get the raw data? There's no link to it I could find. So I decided to scrape it.

First, I found the highest resolution image of it I could find on the web. Wasn't massive, but it would do. Then I could load it into R using readGDAL from the rgdal package:


and there it is in my R graphics window. Now I need to generate a whole bunch of circular points where I want to sample the colours. So out with the sines and cosines. Lots of trial and error getting the radii right for all ten sections, but eventually I had it. It was a seconds work with the overlay function from the sp package to get the 860 colour points.

860? There's only 84 traits? I found and dropped the two rows that corresponded to the A-J index and the J-A index. Now I had all the colours in a nice matrix which I could save to a file for safe keeping.

For a simple presentation, I just created an HTML table where the cell background was the colour. It's hard to do rotated column headers in HTML, so I added a fixed DIVas index, and multiple row headers so you can always see the column heading letters. I think the resulting HTML page makes it much easier to navigate and find the colour for the thing you are looking for, although nobody will want to buy large-format version posters of it.

If anyone wants the raw data, drop me an email.

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