Data + Design Project

How Would Kerouac Like Becoming an Infographic?

Thursday 08.30.2012 , Posted by


Jack Kerouac’s gravestone reads, “He honored life.” Said to be a progenitor of the hippie movement and pioneer of the beat generation, he lived a simple life. Kerouac claimed that he wrote his novel, On the Road over the course of three weeks on a 120-foot roll of teletype paper. The makeshift roll was actually tracing paper sheets taped together and the novel was typed single spaced, without margins or paragraph breaks. His antics made it hard to doubt that he marched to the beat of a different drummer than most.

Using a computer to produce an infographic depicting the novel, Stefanie Posavec created a scale of .85mm equal to one word, and a right turn to denote a new sentence. The color changes refer to differing topic matter. So would the road-tripping, booze drinking, sexing, off-beat, wandering Jack be in favor of such a quantitative deconstruction of the novel? I would think not, but there is no doubt that this clever rendition of the data is unique. Posavec calls the work ‘data illustration’ with the hope to inspire subjective feelings in the viewer.

It is a visual window into the mind and life of Kerouac, showing the randomness of the stories of his life. The novel has been on countless lists as one of the top novels in history, so it is easy to see why it got Posavec thinking. With the spontaneous nature of the adventures in the novel, the chaotic feel of the intertwining lines of the graphic certainly does On the Road justice.

Click here or the image below for a full-sized view:


She followed up the winding graphic with this bar chart representing sentence length.

Click here or the image below for a full-sized view:

Sentence Length Poster


Steven Shoppman

Written by Steven Shoppman

Steven Shoppman is a contributor to The Visual News and an avid explorer. In 2009 he received the honor of "Adventurer of the Year" by National Geographic Adventure Magazine for his expedition driving two trucks around the world. The expedition was named "The World by Road" He continues to plan new adventures and you can visit his personal website to learn more about him at

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