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Popular Science magazine, 1872-1922 | by culturevis
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Popular Science magazine, 1872-1922

William Huber, Tara Zepel, Lev Manovich. 2010.





All issues of Popular Science magazine from the beginning of publication in 1872 to 1922.

Our data set uses every 3rd page of every issue.

Total number of pages: 9900.










The pages are arranged in the order of publication (left to right, top to bottom).





In the first three decades of its publication, Popular Science used very few images. In fact, if we compare Science and Popular Science in the 1880s, we discover that the latter was at first more “scientific.” While photographs and illustrations accompanied Science articles, Popular Science used only occasional graphs.


Over time the two magazines reverse their visual strategies. Science banishes photographs and illustrations as they come to be considered inappropriate for proper scientific discourse. Popular Science moves in reverse direction becoming highly visual.


Mapping 9900 magazine pages into a single high-resolution image reveals this transition. The change in magazine ownership in 1912 dramatically manifests itself in the sudden jump in the number of images and ads and new layout strategies. However, when we zoom out to see the whole visualization, we notice that this change was already anticipated by the gradual increase in the number of images during the preceding decade.


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Taken on June 4, 2010