Infographics are a powerful tool for communicating vast sums of information, but a far more compelling way to express data is through the unnamed combination of number-crunching, cartography and digital imaging that we first saw in Aaron Koblin's 2009 project (which we dubbed "The United States of Airplane Traffic").
Three years later we have an even more comprehensive version of this, done by Canadian anthropologist Felix Pharand. Pharand spent 13 years inputting not only every flight path on Earth, but every road and shipping route as well, using publicly available data and a home computer. The result is this astonishingly beautiful film entitled Anthropocene, presented chronologically and starting 250 years ago. Watch it full-screen:
While it is the non-narrated version of the film that's making the blog rounds, we chose the narrated one because it really helps you understand the impact on our planet begun with the Industrial Revolution. Without the explanatory chatter it's just a bunch of purty images and, we feel, diminishes Pharand's efforts.
The video also illuminates—hmm, poor choice of word, perhaps—just how vast western Australia, northern Africa and parts of South America are. To say nothing of Canada--did anyone else notice how dark Pharand's native land was in the vid?
The video was co-produced by Globaia, "a global education organization whose mission is to foster a consistent and informed participation of citizens in environmental issues by understanding the multiple dimensions of today's world and its likely future."
See also: Beautiful, Beautiful Data