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Visualizing the Proliferation of Pictures in Magazines Visualizing the Proliferation of Pictures in Magazines

Visualizing the Proliferation of Pictures in Magazines

by Andrew Price

December 17, 2010


Over at the Software Studies Initiative, William Huber, Tara Zepel, and Lev Manovich have analyzed the changing layouts of the magazines Science and Popular Science.

The image above features one full issue from every five years of Popular Science's publication, from 1882 to 2007. They're arranged in order of publication, from top left to bottom right. As you can see, there's a progression: Over the years, Popular Science has become very visual—with more and more images relative to text.

It's a striking trend, and I bet it's been happening at other magazines too (it certainly has here at GOOD).

My first reaction to this was "Wow, people are getting dumb. They have no patience for reading. Magazines are turning into picture books." And then I realized that this very post relied on a really rich graphic to illustrate a trend that would have been hard to describe in detail with words. Good visuals can convey a lot of information (and every year they get cheaper to produce).

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