This population density map is making the rounds on the blogs today, to near-universal acclaim. And for good reason; it might be the most intuitive look at global pop. density ever cobbled together. The brainchild of Fathom Information Design, 'Dencity' uses small pixels to connote density, big ones to convey wide-open, unpopulated spaces.
Fast Company explains why the design works:
In the visual syntax of infographics and maps, bigger equals... well, bigger. Large dots on a map or bars in a chart correspond to a proportionally large quantity of stuff being visualized--like, for instance, the number of people living in a certain geographic area. But its new visualization of world population density called "Dencity," Fathom turns this basic graphic language on its head. What if bigger dots on a map signified fewer people, sparsely scattered? As it turns out, this counterintuitive approach makes brilliant sense.
I don't really get what's so unorthodox about this; to me, it seems downright intuitive. More people packed into smaller spaces; smaller dot. Less people in a bigger area; bigger dot. I could make a point about our anthropocentric tendency to view the world as it pertains explicitly to human affairs, but I'll abstain from venturing any further than that.
Counterintuitive or not, it is indeed a brilliantly effective way to convey where population centers are grouped, and where there's still free range.
Click here to view a larger image.