Published on Sep 7, 2009

Visualizing Empires Decline

The evolution of the top 4 maritime empires of the 19th and 20th centuries by land extension. I chose the maritime empires because of their more abrupt and obtuse evolution as the visual emphasis would be on their declines. The first idea to represent the independence of a territory was a mitosis like split. Each shape area is proportional do land area. I created the dataset myself from wikipedia. When an independence process is dispersed over time, the date of the first event that created that process was chosen for the split (e.g. declaration of independence, revolution). Dominions of an empire, were considered part of that empire and thus not independent.

For this visualization I used toxi’s verlet springs in Processing in order to implement soft bodies. Along with that came the idea of fluid and timeless boundaries, and thus some sort of soft bodies dissolution.

Those are some screenshots displaying the springs in the system. In white we have the springs that form each shape’s skeleton. The collisions were implemented using the red springs — center to center connections that repel the bodies when a certain minimum distance is met.