Genetic Design

There's an interesting article in this month's Portfolio.com. While primarily about 23andMe and the future of "Web-surfing your own DNA," the thing that caught my eye was the interactive feature.

This graphic was created for the story by Martin Krzywinski, who placed the human genome in a circular pattern. The chromosomes are represented on the outside of the circle and colored dots are for disease-related genes. The lines inside the circle show gene linkages and similarities. Based on a quick glance of Krzywinski's site, it looks like the feature was created using Circos, "a Perl application for the generation of publication-quality, circularly composited renditions of genomic data and related annotations."

Genetic information is inherently complex to understand, represent, and convey to non-scientists. Images can be incredibly powerful tools of communication, as people respond to images instinctively based on their personalities, associations, and previous experience.

More and more people are taking part in genetic tests, services, and research. It will be fascinating to see how advances in graphic design either enable or undermine our ability to fully comprehend and interact with all the resulting genetic information.

What good/bad examples of genetic design have you seen?