The 2010 Census data was just released before Christmas, but Stamen designer Michal Migurski already has their infographics beat. His interactive census visualizer, ThisTract.com, mashes up numbers from the previous census with your web browser’s built-in geolocation technology (not to mention a cornucopia of mapping and graphing APIs) to blow up your block into a small universe of personalized, visualized datapoints.
Migurski built the site as a kind of teaser for the 2010 Census data, and with any luck he’s integrating the new info into his infographic as we speak. In the meantime, let your eyes and mind boggle at the depth of context ThisTract.com can generate out of an address typed into a simple text box: everything from housing and education to race, age and income; from the micro-level of an individual “tract” to the big picture of the U.S. as a whole. (Tracts are the informational “pixels” in a census: “the smallest territorial unit for which population data are available in many countries.”)
Best of all, Migurski has clearly read his Edward Tufte: the graphics are clean and precise, easily scannable at a glance or worth scrutinizing in detail. And various subtle interface elements — like the small dot that appears in the donut chart to match the corresponding text caption when you roll over it with your mouse, seen below — make interacting with the graphs a breeze and a pleasure.
What’s more, you don’t even have to get personal with ThisTract.com to do a deep dive into its data-visualizing treasures. The site offers up handy links to tracts like Disneyland, Harvard, and New York’s Chinatown to whet your infographical appetite.
The point of a census is to place individuals within the context of the whole, but dense data graphs can often intimidate more than they inform. Few interactive tools make that as easy and immersive as ThisTract.com, so let’s hope Migurski updates it to reflect the new numbers soon.