Other posts related to scientific-communication

 | July 28, 2010 6:28 pm

daVinci-NervousSince “Hannibal, Napoleon and Joseph Charles Minard” was posted in February, it has consistently been one of the most popular posts on this website.  Along with “Eragon Shadelayer: Sociopath” and the project pages for Time Drive and LyX-Outline, it accounts for about 60% of my overall traffic; which is pretty impressive since there are nearly 150 other posts, an image gallery and several content pages vying for people’s attention.

The popularity of Time Drive and LyX-Outline is self-explanatory.  Other than the book, they are my two largest projects.  Moreover, they are the only projects that I promote outside of this website with any regularity.

(Time Drive was even featured by Lifehacker, which was just awesome.  Seeing one of my projects in a big-time website/media outlet was one of ten Life Goals I set in High School.  Now I just need to do something cool and world changing, so I can be invited to present at TED.  That would knock out two more.)

I also understand why “Eragon Shadeslayer: Sociopath” is popular.  There is a thriving community of people who utterly detest the work of Christopher Paolini.  They’re a far more cohesive community than even Paolini’s fans.  They have support clubs, websites and everything.  It’s really quite impressive.

Earlier this week, I finally figured out why “Hannibal, Napoleon and Joseph Charles Minard” is so popular.  While I would like to think that it’s my brilliant commentary or witty prose, that would be wrong.  It’s because I included pretty pictures.   But unfortunately, the popularity of the post isn’t because of my skill as an artist, either.  It’s due to the subject matter of the images.  Because, they’re more than just pretty pictures.  The images included with the Minard post are high quality and (somewhat faithful) translations of Minard’s original maps; and to the best of my knowledge, it’s the only place on the Internet where you can get PDF (vector) copies of the artwork.

I created my copies of the illustrations for the book project, but I liked them so much, that I also wanted to post them on this site.  But since I drew heavily on the work of others (including Edward Tufte and the wonderful Revisions of Minard website), I thought it best to release them under a Creative Commons License.

Over the past six months since they’ve been available, I’ve been contacted by many people who have wanted to use the images for various purposes.  Of these requests, the most common is a desire to print out very large copies and hang them on the wall.  (Edward Tufte offers a copy of the Minard poster for purchase and it is wonderful and beautiful.  Unfortunately, it is also very small.)

It wasn’t until earlier this week, after some back and forth with a nice man named Kevin, that a light bulb in my head went off.  I thought, “Since people want big copies of the images, why don’t you offer them as posters?  You used to run a production office and know something about this whole printing thing … and it probably wouldn’t be that hard.”

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