What follows does not relate directly to Excel but why not accept the challenge and try to replicate what fathom.info have done … or something similar?

I have been watching the Fortune 500 data series for many years now and as I was looking at 2013 and searching for a friendly version of the 2014 list, I came across a real fascination from fathom.info. Here is their introduction to the page:

An interactive tool that depicts the 500 companies on Fortune Magazine’s  annual list of America’s largest corporations. Click and drag the mouse to see how a company’s rank has changed over the years from 1955 to 2010. Or change to the Revenue and Profit views to see other perspectives. This project was built as a quick sketch and is not affiliated with Fortune Magazine in any way, and runs on a publicly available data file of the listings found on Wikipedia. The intent is to show how 84,000 data points could be easily viewed and navigated in an interactive piece.

… it’s a fun example of how you can interact with a really large amount of data in a very fluid manner.

Additional details for the curious:

  • Many companies have merged, separated, or otherwise been renamed. I didn’t have time (nor interest) in going through tens of thousands of entries to figure out what’s what.
  • The left and right arrow keys will move back and forward by year. The up and down arrow keys will move up or down through the list of companies. This isn’t perfect, because of how things reorganize, which is why it’s not advertised in the piece.
  • No scale is shown on the vertical axis. It’s just not useful for how much it would interrupt the overall design. The point of the plot is to see an overall trend, and then look at individual values more closely.
  • A log scale is used for revenue and profit. It’s the perfect example of why a log scale is useful because without it the plot looks like jumbled nonsense. Never mind, went back and fixed the negative values (losses on the profit view). If it’s on the internet is has to be perfect.
  • Three years later, I’ve ported the piece to JavaScript. The process does feel like 1998 again, but I suppose it’s better than old work disappearing from the web.

Starts here 

I created a video of the page …

All comments and observations eagerly awaited!


Duncan Williamson

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