In cartoons, a plane can hop from point to point on a map to show the passage of time and distance, landing on an “X” and leaving a trail of dashes in its wake. The Internet has few options for that kind of storytelling. If you like videos and infographics, you’ll want to check out Meograph, a visualization tool that combines both in a multimedia overlay on Google Maps.
Professional journalists made this Facebook timeline under the pen name KVWM San Diego, which is also the fictional television station in the Will Ferrell comedy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The map follows Facebook from Harvard, MA in 2004 to Menlo Park, CA in 2012, where the company recently held its initial public offering. In this screenshot, the company had just made the news for opening the network to the general public.
Here, Meograph founder and CEO Misha Leybovich shares a brief “meography” of his own company, which he started in San Francisco in March 2012.
What was the inspiration for this tool?
Three things: 1) When I was 8, I read a book called Flatland and have been thinking about how to visualize space and time together ever since! 2) At my last job as a strategy consultant I became an expert at pairing data visualization and storytelling. 3) Over the past 7 years I’ve traveled to 70 countries and couldn’t find any way I liked to visualize my adventures. All those came together into Meograph, and once I started talking to my friends about it, the other applications (journalism, education, biography, etc.) became very clear.
It looks like there are some features that are coming soon. What other improvements do you have in the pipeline?
Embedding meographs in your own site will be working in the next few weeks. We’re making the design more responsive so that the site looks beautiful and works well on any screen or mobile device. We’re building an awesome graphical authoring tool [right now you fill out a form to add text and upload files], which we’ll roll out in about a month. And of course more social network integration, to be able to use your data from those networks to create and interact with meographs.
We’re having issues with audio playback in Firefox (should be fixed this week, Chrome is best in the meantime) and still working on making the media load a little faster for smoother playback on slower connections.
Because the site is still in beta, you’ll need to submit your email address here for an invite. If you’re a journalist, send your request to email@example.com for priority access.