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A San Francisco studio makes magic out of data on maps that beg to be explored

Communications Arts

In his formulation on the laws of prediction, Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, memorably wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” One flight above a green grocer in San Francisco’s Mission District—a gritty neighborhood that despite the dot-com boom and bust has proven remarkably impervious to change—the eight designers and programmers at Stamen Design are making magic out of data. Their displays of quantitative information for clients such as Trulia, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, Flickr and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art have transformed the way we experience data. What was once the province of statistics, charts and graphs has blossomed into work that is aesthetically meaningful, emotionally eloquent and yes, magical.