5 years ago to this day, the very first post [web.archive.org] appeared on infosthetics.com. It was a short description of how the name of this blog came to be. This was then followed by an entry detailing some sort of funky Bluetooth Christmas tree, but quickly turned into more relevant posts highlighting still timeless visualization pieces like Ecotonoha, Ten by Ten and the still impressive Degree Confluence Project. Much has happened since then. Or to be more precise, about 1950 published entries, almost each linking to a unique project, which in turn generated about 4309 (hopefully non-spam) comments.
What started out as a simple, small, personal project motivated out of pure frustration ("Why can I not find a webpage with beautifully designed visualizations?") seemed to have sparked the interest of more than 37,000 daily feed subscribers today. It would actually be nice to track down the first subscribers, if I would only know how. While back then infosthetics was the 'only' weblog focusing on the topic of data visualization, there now exist a wide range of specialized viz- and infographic blogs, and any self-respecting popular design blog now features some sort 'infographic best-of' list. The fact at least 4 beautiful books have been published around the theme of aesthetic data visualization makes it all the better. Hopefully, some day, this all might culminate into a sparkling, creative and self-directed community, as I feel many of the interesting visualization works are still shown, discussed and appreciated in disparate fields without much cross-disciplinary discourse.
The reason why this site is still up and running is truly because of your continuing interest, for which I wish to thank you deeply, my faithful reader. Although I often need to juggle the blog between my professional and family life, it does actually help this blog is exactly what I "want" it to be (well, in terms of content that is, as I try to ignore the many website bugs and missing features...). Therefore, I feel quite amazed each single day that other people find the things I personally feel very passioned about worthwhile to read. I also want to thank the site's sponsors (i.e. FusionCharts, Loop11, Morae and InstantAtlas), most of which have featured here for many, many months, and those readers who have ordered stuff through clicking the commercial links or the information aesthetics shop, for making this endeavor somehow financially viable.
As a typical "link"-blog, I have no way to experience the true "effect" of my own posts. I can only imagine how a visualization I did post suddenly gets thousands of hits, sometimes manages to appear on Digg, Reddit or StumbleUpon, or gets a press request, simply through the mentioning on this blog. If I occasionally hear about this, it makes me very glad.
Sometimes, blogs like Engadget make me jealous, in how they are provided with important scoops, products to review, or relevant press releases well ahead of time. While I do get many reader suggestions, of which most are very useful, I still need to conduct an almost daily personal hunt for that "perfect" post that will eclipse all others. For instance, the fact I had to discover the somehow quite relevant book "Data Flow" through pure coincidence well after it was released, still makes me wonder, sometimes. I also do often question how I could increase the engagement and commenting on this blog.
For those who are still reading this self-indulgent post, there might be a reward. To celebrate this occasion, I will be giving three books away: The Visual Miscellaneum, We Feel Fine and Data Flow. To participate, simply add a comment below, describing why your read information aesthetics, or how it has changed some aspect of your life, or how it could become a better blog. On Monday 14th December, I will choose the 3 most original comments and let the winners choose what book they want.