Can't remember when Sterling Archer hooked up with that Brazilian au pair, or if he made accidental penis contact with Conway Stern? Even for a devoted Archer fan, it can be difficult keeping up with Sterling's sordid affairs. Now there's a handy infographic to help sort it all out.
"Archer Net" is a simple and elegant visualisation which connects our favourite Archer characters based on their hookup history. It was created by David Lee, an urban planning PhD candidate at MIT. Here's how Lee described the process of making the infographic to me:
I generated a list of links between characters manually, by re-watching each episode and noting relationships in a Google Spreadsheet; a Google Apps script converts the sheet into JSON on request. I used d3plus to easily draw and style the network as a "rings" visualisation, with some added code to the tooltips to show the full list of links to a chosen character, with type and episode number.
What's especially impressive about this particular infographic is how the entire network seamlessly re-arranges itself when you click on any character. Go on, give it a try.
While tracking Sterling Archer's sex life is entertaining, this sort of visualisation also has many applications in the growing field of network analysis. Researchers can use networks to visualise the spread of information via social media, trace the path of an epidemic, or understand how information is transmitted in the human brain.
As for Archer, Lee says he'll continue to update the infographic as he watches more episodes. We'll check back periodically to see how things progress, but I'm betting by the time he's made it through the entire series, this simple little wheel of tawdry encounters will become a grotesquely technicolour smear of debauchery. [Visualizing.org]