XKCD's "Frequency" - using blinking GIFs to visualize the relative frequency of the momentous and trivial

In Frequency, the latest XKCD cartoon, Randall Munroe has assembled a grid of animated GIFs representing various events in the universe, each keyed to blink in the frequency in which they occur in reality. As with the best of Munroe's work, it's a mix of the trenchant and the silly, and the juxtapositions are smart and provocative. There's real genius in putting "50,000 plastic bottles are produced" and "50,000 plastic bottles are recycled" next to each other, the former blinking much more often than the latter -- but the best part is "A Sagittarius named Amelia drinks a soda," just above them, mixing up the alarming and the humorous.

The other juxtapositions are just as delicious -- one birth/one death; China builds a car/Japan builds a car/Germany builds a car/US builds a car/someone else builds a car; someone buys "To Kill a Mockingbird"/someone's cat kills a mockingbird -- and so on. This being XKCD, you can be sure that Munroe has an absurdly well-thought-through process for establishing and documenting his numbers, too.

The tool-tip notes that he wanted to include pitch-drops in the chart, but "it turns out the gif format has some issues with decade-long loops." Frequency (via IO9)

Notable Replies

  1. Excellent. Now we don't have to ask Kenneth anymore.

  2. Anybody know what the "note on today's XKCD" that's in Randal's RSS feed actually says? I looked at the comic yesterday before said "note" was posted.... Oh, never mind, I figured out how to get it, it says

  3. I want to know who's the pervert who's buying ten vibrators a minute? Also, her phone number, though I expect she'll be too busy to answer.

  4. I called her. She was busy, but she said she'd buzz me back later.

  5. Ogilvy says:

    Every time a Wikipedia edit is made, someone dies. Curse you, Jimmy Wales!

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