Case Study: Sliding Onto The New York Times

Michael Animation, Data & Graphics, Interactive, Photo, Video August 8, 2010

When my colleagues and I at Asia Society invited The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to our glacier exhibition, we aimed at nothing less than wowing him and other viewers every way imaginable, from the 30-foot wall-to-wall photo prints to our century-spanning multimedia portfolio, armored with cutting-edge digital techniques.

Above is a slider tool I came up as a concept to illustrate the dramatic glacial change in a compelling way and add an intuitive dose of interactivity, inviting the viewer to slide across the image frame to travel between past and present (and tap on a smartphone or tablet nowadays). The Times staff loved it and put it right on top of Kristof’s column.

There are plenty of other ways to visualize the story we are trying to tell. Here below are a couple of other ideas or presenting the images, all powerful yet in varied formats.

  • GIF, immediately below, is very popular among almost all social media platforms, except a handful few. When people scroll down their Facebook or Twitter feeds, these eye candies auto play and loop over and over, allowing viewers to grab a sneak peek at something bigger or more to come:

Rongbuk Glacier under the foot of Mt Everest has thinned by 3-400 feet, vertically [Photos by George Mallory in 1921 and David Breashears in 2007]


  • Looping video clip was much more technically complicated to get right, especially before the latest technology in endless new social media tools made it mainstream. This below is rendered as a mp4 clip and embedded here on this page configured to loop forever:


  • Still image gallery is old school yet it is universally acceptable and technically worry free. Who wouldn’t want to have something appealing when one picture says more than a thousand words? [Click below to visit On Thinner Ice site for glacier images at “Then & Now.” Coded in Flash, apologies for iOS devices.]

Screen shot of On Thinner Ice site landing page

This has been a massive project, and I have worked tirelessly creating various forms of digital assets both for our own web sites, exhibitions and the media. It has been an extremely rewarding experience to do great work, gain outsize exposure (media, social as well as foot traffic) and had a ton of fun throughout the process.