Visualisation on evolution from Ben Fry and how we could use it in Bioinformatics…

I’ve been looking through Ben Fry’s portfolio recently and came across this. It essentially shows the evolution of Darwin’s Origin of Species book over the 6 published editions. You can hover over positions in the visualisation to view the text from the book and the insertions/deletions made.

For visualisations on the evolution of species over time, or even comparisons in gene expression between different samples, I think this sort of approach could be very useful. For instance, instead of chapters, we could have chromosomes (although for some organisms we may have to provide abstract views on the chromosomes since there can be so many 🙂 ). Over time, the changes in the genome could be displayed in different colours. Additionally, as in the image below, we could show changes in gene expression between different subjects in a nice abstract manner with opportunities to drill down into more detail as required (I’ll add this view tomorrow maybe).

I find the simplistic nature of this visualisation particularly appealing, and a good starting point for visualisation of this sort of data. The next level would involve presentation of zoomed regions in a genome to provide extra information to the user

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One thought on “Visualisation on evolution from Ben Fry and how we could use it in Bioinformatics…

  1. The Origin of Species thing (http://benfry.com/traces/) is really cool. I remember him mentioning it a while ago, when he was giving a talk in Cambridge, but I hadn’t seen the finished product. Nice one.

    Yes, this approach certainly allows you to squeeze a lot of info into one area or image, and then let the user explore it. Being able to zoom in to a particular section would be a great next step.

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