Visualization of the Week: Google Music Timeline

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The Google Big Picture Group has a number of eye-catching big data visualizations based on on-going research projects at the search engine giant. One project, Music Timeline as shown below, shows how different musical genres became popular over time, and let’s you discover artists in each genre.

The Music Timeline shows genres of music waxing and waning, based on how many Google Play Music users have an artist or album in their music library, and other data (such as album release dates). Each stripe on the graph represents a genre; the thickness of the stripe tells you roughly the popularity of music released in a given year in that genre. (For example, the “jazz” stripe is thick in the 1950s since many users’ libraries contain jazz albums released in the ’50s.) Click on the stripes to zoom into more specialized genres.

The initial view of the visualization is a stacked area chart that represents the popularity of genres over time, which feels fairly familiar, but then you interact with the stacks and it gets more interesting and almost surprisingly fast. The best part is the pointers to specific albums as you mouse over.


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