GIF: Time Traveling in China by Dheera Venkatraman

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive, Photo May 18, 2016

Really amazed by this MIT scientist/photographer who has taken this to an artistic level, documenting the dramatic changes over the landscapes of many Chinese cities. There are more on his site here.

Pudong, Shanghai, circa 1920-2009

Pudong, Shanghai, circa 1920-2009, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

Shanghai via satellite, 1984-2012, (Google Earth)

Shanghai via satellite, 1984-2012, (Google Earth)


Lanzhou, China, circa 1930-2016,

Lanzhou, China, circa 1930-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)


Chengdu, China, 1994-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

Chengdu, China, 1994-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)


Guangzhou, China, circa 1970-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

Guangzhou, China, circa 1970-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)


Yibin, China, circa 1940-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

Yibin, China, circa 1940-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)


Guiyang, China, circa 1920-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

Guiyang, China, circa 1920-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

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iPhone 360 Video Capture: Falcon 9 Landing on Sea

Michael 360°, Interactive, Video May 17, 2016

I’ve posted something advertising for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket landing on the drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. But that post has some issues while viewed on a mobile device to watch the 360 video. Here below is a recorded iPhone screen playing back that 360 video via a Facebook 360 post. With an Mac and iPhone, it’s a lot easier to record the phone’s screen, inspiration here.

If you are behind the Great Fire Wall, watch below:

GIF: Cities Under Water 2C vs. 4C Temperature Rises

Michael Interactive, Photo May 15, 2016

A few months ago, I wrote on about the dramatic renditions of climate change impacts on major cities around the world, with large swaths of urban centers flooded by rising waters, between the 2C and 4C temperature rise scenarios. A huge tip of my hat to for their genius and artistic work on visualizing the consequences of climate crisis.

Shanghai under water 2C vs. 4C temperature rises, via

Shanghai under water 2C vs. 4C temperature rises, via

Lower Manhattan under water 2C vs. 4C temperature rises, via

Lower Manhattan under water 2C vs. 4C temperature rises, via

Sydney under water 2C vs 4C temperature rises

Sydney under water 2C vs 4C temperature rises, via

London under water 2C vs 4C temperature rises, via

London under water 2C vs 4C temperature rises, via

GIF: Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Half Built

Michael Interactive, Photo May 14, 2016

Here’s the first half of the world’s soon-to-be longest water crossing, before it was built and now half way there, via NASA Earth Observatory:

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge over Pearl River Estuary 2013-2016

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge over Pearl River Estuary 2013-2016

If you want to get from Macau or Zhuhai to Hong Kong, you either have to take a boat or drive at least four hours (200 kilometers) across southeastern China. An ambitious engineering project intends to shorten that drive time to 40 minutes.

The HKZM connector will include roughly 42 kilometers (26 miles) of bridges over water, with another 7 kilometers (4 miles) passing through a submarine tunnel. The estimated $132 billion (Hong Kong) project will include three cable-stayed bridges and long stretches of causeways; the longest bridge section will be 29.6 kilometers (18.4 miles) long. Three lanes of traffic will move in each direction, roughly east-west across the water. Once completed, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will be one of the longest water crossings in the world, equivalent to about 15 Golden Gate Bridges.

GIF: Tornado’s Earth Shaving Power Seen from Space

Michael Interactive, Photo May 6, 2016

Another wonderful GIF material from NASA Earth Observatory:

Three-hundred sixty-three tornadoes raked across the southern, midwestern, and northeastern United States between April 25 and April 28, 2011. The extraordinary event proved to be the largest and costliest outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded in the United States. When the dust settled, authorities blamed the storms for the deaths of 348 people and $11 billion of damage.

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GIF: Dams on Yangtze (Three Gorges) and Euphrates

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive, Photo May 2, 2016

NASA reminded me again of its satellite images of the Three Gorges Dam before and after the construction of the dam. Here below I dug up the before and after images and present in a simple GIF, watch for the tremendous expansion of the water surface on the Yangtze River and its numerous tributaries in this mountainous region:

Three Gorges Dam: 2000-2006 Views from Satellite (via NASA)

Three Gorges Dam: 2000-2006 Views from Satellite (via NASA)

Here below is another extreme case of changes, the human extraction of water largely contributing to the sudden shrinking of reservoir along the Euphrates River:

Shrinking of Qadisiyah Reservoir between 2006 and 2009 (via NASA)

Shrinking of Qadisiyah Reservoir between 2006 and 2009 (via NASA)

Scientists using the twin gravity-measuring satellites of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE)have found that a large portion of the Middle East lost freshwater reserves rapidly during the past decade. The research team observed the Tigris and Euphrates river basins—including parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran—and found that 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of fresh water was lost from 2003 to 2009. That amount is roughly equivalent to the volume of the Dead Sea. About 60 percent of the loss was attributed to the pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs.

Wow 360 Video: Falcon 9 Rocket Landing on Sea

Michael 360°, Interactive, Video April 30, 2016

If you follow Elon Musk (no, we’re not talking Tesla here) and SpaceX, you’ve probably been impressed already by his NASA-like company’s milestone of landing a rocket successfully on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Now prepare to be impressed yet again [Click to watch, and click-hold and drag up/down/left/right to experience a 360-degree virtual reality playback]:

Heads up! 360 degree camera view of landing on the droneship

(On mobile? Just move your phone to find rocket. Desktop? Click and move screen.)


I also watched this on my iPhone, and you should do it on your phone too. If you just stumbled upon this 360 video post here for the first time on your phone, you may find it not rendering. Guess you will have to open up your Facebook app on your phone and find the video yourself, either search “SpaceX” or/and “360 degree camera view of landing on the droneship” or find limited inspiration from the SpaceX official post above. Or befriend me on Facebook and I will share/send along…

Here are some hilarious comments on the post:

Tim Baker Dear SpaceX , I’m still available for dusting, sweeping, mopping and outdoor yard care as well. But don’t ask me to clean Windows, cause I’m a Linux geek

Crouton Smodge My wife just told me that me and the rocket need to get a room… (I’m a bit obsessed with watching this…never gets old!)


For appetizers, below are some Vine and stuff:


Watch: Queen Elizabeth II in Metamorphosis Slideshow

Michael Interactive, Photo, Video April 23, 2016

Happy 90th Birthday to Queen Elizabeth II:

This has been shared over a million times on Facebook and the genius behind it seems to be a popular Facebook group called Slideshow Metamorphosis. Here are other celebrity case studies: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Adrian Brody, among others… For those interested in their service, here’s what you need to send them:

To order your slideshow you need to send at e-mail: 15-20 pictures, (preferably a close up face shot) and indicate their order, propose your favorite music (or choose from 3 options proposed by us), and write caption text (if needed). Your slideshow will be ready within 7 days. If you have special requirements, please, contact us at

I have mastered another skill just for this trick myself, and it just costs a couple of bucks and you could do the same magic on your iPhone. The app, Motato, is self-claimed “the best face morph app for baby and celebrity!” Here’s what I did:


IAB: Internet Ad Revenue Growth 2005-2015

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive April 22, 2016

According to IAB, the internet ad revenue has been growing rapidly over the years, despite a dip for just one year after the 2008 financial crisis. The mobile-based revenue growth has been particularly exponential, posting an average annual growth rate of 100% from 2010 to 2015 vs. non-mobile’s 9% during the same period. see interactive chart below:

Some highlights:

  • Mobile advertising skyrocketed to $20.7 billion during FY 2015, a 66 percent hike over the 2014 total of $12.5 billion
  • Digital video (non-mobile), a component of display-related advertising, reached $4.2 billion in 2015, a 30 percent rise over $3.3 billion in 2014
  • Social media advertising brought in $10.9 billion in 2015, up 55 percent over 2014’s $7 billion
  • Search (non-mobile) revenues reached $20.5 billion in 2015, up 8 percent from $19 billion in 2014
  • Display-related advertising (non-mobile) revenues in 2015 totaled $13.9 billion, representing 23 percent of the year’s revenues, an uptick of 3 percent over $13.5 billion in 2014
  • Retail advertisers continue to represent the largest category of internet ad spending, responsible for 22 percent last year, followed by automotive and financial services which each accounted for 13 percent of the year’s revenues

GIF: Shrinking Lake Mead, Expanding Las Vegas

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive, Photo April 11, 2016
Lake Mead 1984-2016

Lake Mead 1984-2016, via NASA Earth Observatory

Lake Mead main body on Hoover Dam side, 1984-2016

Lake Mead main body on Hoover Dam side, 1984-2016

Las Vegas and Hoover Dam 1984-2016

Las Vegas and Hoover Dam 1984-2016

Lake Mead 2000-2015, via NASA

Lake Mead 2000-2015, via NASA

Lake Mead formed in 1930s following construction on the Hoover Dam along the Colorado River. At maximumcapacity, the reservoir would hold 36 trillion liters (9.3 trillion gallons); water in the vicinity of the dam would have an elevation of about 372 meters (1,220 feet) above sea level. In July 2000, the lake level was relatively high at 366 meters (1,200 feet). By July 2015, however, the level had dropped to 329 meters (1,078 feet).

Read full post at NASA Earth Observatory.

PIECE: 2 Numbers in 1 iPhone (the next small thing)

Michael Audio, Interactive, Video February 19, 2016

This is probably the best thing coming out of Hong Kong in a long while, since my teenage years of fascination with Cantonese pop songs.

This little devices holds a sim card and connects to an iPhone and thus enables that iPhone to call/text from two numbers. This isn’t new for many Android-based smartphones in China (as many Chinese have two or more numbers), but it is a first for the Apple fans. The trick is I ordered from Kickstarter last August and only received it over the last few days. So far it works great, and will probably save a lot of hassle when I next go to China (with my local number) by not having to carry a backup iPhone and having to charge two phones every day.


Not only powering a secondary phone number, this device also serves as an alarm for those who are afraid to lose their iPhone, nowadays the indispensable connection to their digital life. Chances are you would carry this credit card-sized gadget in your pocket or purse, if you leave a meeting or meal forgetting about your iPhone, when you walk a few steps away and the devices loses touch with the iPhone, its alarm goes off. See below for the demonstration:

Oh, there’s also a button on this thing that you can remote control your iPhone’s camera, but you need to open up the PIECE app on your iPhone first to use that function.

If you are interested in this product, you can visit their site. (This is not a paid post.)

Climate Central: Sea Level Rise Visualized

Michael Interactive, Photo, Video January 23, 2016

Here’s what I write in a recent post on ChinaFile about sea level rise in interactive imagery and maps by Climate Central:

I think a big part of the reason why citizens of the world have not rallied to deal with climate change is the lack of a certain deadline that would warrant our immediate response to the grave consequences of our warming planet. There is no discussion of a specific hurricane or other specific imminent event. As a species we are very good at procrastinating. But Climate Central has published a series of shocking graphics that show the danger of rising sea levels faced by Shanghai, Hong Kong, London, New York, and many other cities.

Here are all the amazing slider images by Climate Central showing how much sea level rises 2C and 4C temperature rises will lock in in the coming centuries, enjoy sliding and playing:

Now here below is one map called “Surging Seas: Mapping Choices” also done by Climate Central. Zoom in and out, drag the map, and many other things to compare the two temperature rise scenarios and what they will do to sea levels and the city streets, in this case Greater New York City area:

Actually, in all the slider interactive images above, you can click/tap the link below each image to see the comparative interactive maps for that location.


Now I’d like to give a big shout out to the visual artist Nickolay Lamm who did the interactive city street images. And his big hit project of late is Lammily, or what a Barbie Doll should really look like in a normal woman:

Here below is what real 2nd-graders in a school in Pittsburgh, PA thinks about Lammily, the normal Barbie doll:

Sliding Onto The New York Times

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

We invited The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to our glacier exhibition at the Asia Society. Our goal was nothing short of wowing him, from the 30-foot-wide wall-covering photo prints to a stunning array of digital assets.

Slider: 1921 vs 2009 near Mt Everest


Above is a slider tool (screenshot, see interactive version toward the end of this paragraph) I came up as a concept to illustrate the dramatic glacial change in a compelling way. It also invites the viewer to slide across the image to travel between past and present (or tap on a smartphone or tablet). The Times staff loved it and put it right on top of Kristof’s column.

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