Datasets about influenza virus mutations are hierarchical — there are ancestor- and offspring strains — so these naturally lend themselves to a tree map visualization technique. But such data can also have a geographic component, related to where the strains are reported — and this is what led Andrew at Guiology to perform a remarkable experiment: Using Google Earth as a geospatial alternative to tree maps for visualizing such data.
The results are very pretty indeed:
Andrew has a thorough write-up, with much more eye candy. [Update: Andrew will post again when the research is complete. In the meantime, consider the image above to be a teaser.]
Imagine what this could look like when Google Earth gets a timeline. (I’m trying to get my hands on an actual KML file of this unexpected, highly creative use of Google Earth.)