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Interactive Map Shows Income Inequality Using “Capital in the 21st Century” Data
May 07, 2014

Readers of the provocative bestseller “Capital in the 21st Century,” who want to take a closer look at the income database analyzed by economist and author Thomas Piketty can take advantage of a new online tool created at Carnegie Mellon University.

Called Explorable Inequality, the site enables people to use an interactive map to explore the World Top Incomes Database compiled by Piketty and his colleagues. Users can move back and forth across more than 100 years to study tax data from 29 countries. In addition to a world map highlighting wealth inequality, the interface allows people to use fever charts to focus on one country or compare several at a time, year by year. An online video is available to explain the interface’s features.

The interface was created by the CREATE Lab in Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute by Randy Sargent, system scientist, and Christopher Bartley, principal research programmer. It enables large, time-sequenced data files to be rapidly explored in a manner similar to the GigaPan Time Machine, a project developed by the same team in conjunction with Google.

GigaPan Time Machine is a system that enables people to explore gigapixel-scale, high-resolution videos and image sequences by panning and zooming through the imagery and moving back and forth in time. Time magazine’s Timelapse, a Webby-winning project for exploring 30 years of Landsat imagery of Earth, also uses this technology.

The Explorable Inequality website is available at An explanatory video can be accessed at

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