Revisions of “On the Origin of Species”

Ben Fry has made the first step of his new project available to the public: A visualization of the developement of Charles Darwin’s book “On the Origin of Species”.

The content of the book is displayed line by line and grouped into the chapters. The revisions are shown as an animation where the changed pieces of content are color-coded per version. Hovering over the lines opens a tooltip displaying the actual text of the book.


The visualization combines some best-practices of interactive information visualization. Animation gives an effortless overview over the revisions and draws the view in. Detials on demand give further context to an abstract representation of information.

This piece is a simpler version of a larger effort that looks at the changes between editions, and is intended as the first in a series looking at how the book evolved over time. The visualization is created using Processing and the data is provided by Dr. John van Wyhe, et al. who run The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online.

Via Infosthetics / Ben Fry

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