If you’ve never visited the corner of the internet known as Polygraph, you’re missing out. The year-old site boasts some of the coolest infographics—which it calls “joints,” in a nod to the ever-presence of rap slang, far beyond the perimeters of the hip-hop world—on the coolest subjects. To our delight, much of their work mines the intersections of music and culture.
Their mission statement reads as follows: “Polygraph is a publication that incites water cooler discussion about complex topics. We avoid long-winded essays at all costs, using code, visuals, and animation to construct a different sort of story, one that’s often reader-driven, embeddable, and open-source.”
Journalist-engineer Matthew Daniels, a Polygraph founder, detailed in an October Medium article (here) the rise of what is known alternately as “data journalism” and “interactive explanations”—a nascent form of “media” that demands coding for its fruition, which marshals the technological facilities of the internet alongside forward-thinking design principles and innovative journalism. The result, dubbed “D3,” aims to visualize processes in all their complexity, rather than merely propounding an argument; as Daniels writes, to “depict the system rather than a thesis.”
Daniels would almost certainly quibble with our use of the word “infographic” as a misleading and constricting way of describing his site’s work.
Among Polygraph’s myriad impressive “joints” (our favorites include their audio-visual tribute to Grandmaster Flash, use of playlists to crowdsource the definition of punk, and project on the evolution of musical taste), we’ve chosen to single-out the site’s visualization of Miles Davis’ influence.
Here’s how Polygraph introduces the endeavor:
Let’s examine his legacy by sorting through every Wikipedia page (in English) on which he’s mentioned. This approach not only highlights his recordings and collaborators, but also wraps our arms around everything else, such as mentions in Kendrick Lamar’s “influence” section and the “notable usage” section for Motherfucker.”
But don’t take our word for it—or our posting here of a few screenshots. Head over to Polygraph and check out their work. We’re certain you’ll find it edifying and entertaining.
The Miles Davis featured visualization, “The Universe of Miles,” can be found HERE.