The Rhythm of Food is a DH Project created by Google News Lab and Truth & Beauty to visualize trends in google searches about food in the last 15 years. This project uses an interactive circular map to visualize popularity in google searches for different foods across the months of the year.
In the below example, you can see that google searches for strawberries have gone up over the years, as the darkest color is the most recent year. Also, searches are more common when strawberries are in season in the US and during Valentine’s Day. The Rhythm of Food site allows you to explore a variety of different foods including beverages and spices.
Using the framework from Miriam Posner’s “How Did They Make That?” I will dive deeper into the components and background of The Rhythm of Food.
The main sources listed on the Rhythm of Food website are:
These sites certainly contain a lot of data, but those data are not compiled in an easily exportable fashion. I assume that Rhythm of Food used FooDB to decide which foods to use in their project because it catalogues foods in different categories and gives a short description of each food. The data in Google Trends is more easily relatable to the final result of Rhythm of Food. The one difficulty I see when accessing data on Google Trends is that you need to download the data from each individual food you want to visualize. However, those data are easily accessed and could be processed without challenge.
Another way that data had to be processed for this project was differentiating searches for words that mean something other than the food, but include the same word as the food. The team used Google Knowledge Graph topics to make this distinction. It is unclear exactly how this works within Google Trends, however Rhythm of Food was created in collaboration with Google News Lab, who have closer access to Google data.
It is not clear from the Rhythm of Food site as to what program is used to create the presentation of this project. Still, when searching further into the team members for this project, I found the original design to visualize seasonal spirals on Yuri Vishnevsky’s website. It is possible to create forks off of this program, so it is accessible even if it is not directly advertised on the Rhythm of Food site.
Another team member to discuss when looking into the presentation of The Rhythm of Food is Moritz Stefaner. He is an important contributor to this project as he runs the company Truth & Beauty. From his website I found that the project was created using these programs: ES2015, webpack, react, Material UI, and d3 v4.
In conclusion, I wish there was more information on processing and presentation on the Rhythm of Food website so that someone could create a similar project. I think that because it was made in collaboration with Google News Lab, the project was aiming towards showcasing the interesting trends in google search data that anyone can explore more than it was showcasing how to use create this unique visualization.
A question I still have is how did the team decide which foods to display? They certainly have a large variety and a large number of foods on the website, but I’m curious as to why the visualization is limited in this way.
I can see this type of visualization being really helpful when studying COVID-19 in the future because of the dynamic nature of the pandemic.