The Overview Effect

Category: Innovation (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Spain

Organisation: Personal project

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 12 Feb 2019

Credit: Aina Cebrian Cormand

Project description:

The overview effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space.It is the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, “hanging in the void”, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere.

From space, national boundaries vanish


And why, I don’t know. I don’t know to this day. I had a feeling [the Earth] it’s tiny, it’s shiny, it’s beautiful,it’s home, and it’s fragile.

— Michael Collins, Apollo 11

Impact reached:

“The Overview Effect” project is product of instrinsec motivation .Some months ago a friend explained me what this abstract concept  mean and I felt so curious that I decided that I wanted to visualize it. After all, I am a teacher, so I am driven by making the complex simple and appealing. As a result, I created some maps and published them into my personal portfolio.

Because this project was just a self-distraction in order to research new paths for storytelling, I didn’t design neither a communication plan or a reporting dashboard. I just didn’t shared it far away fronm my personal website. Consequently, I can’t measure the impact of the project by analyzing social media.

Techniques/technologies used:

I used CARTO, a Location Intelligence platform, and Excel.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part of this project was going beyond the abstract concept (the overview effect) and translate it into graphical elements in order to create an appealing visualization. Apart from that, it was also quite complicated to geolocalize some data in order to create a consistent and coherent visualization

What can others learn from this project?

The major challenge of the project is to broad the perspectives beyond the common worldwide maps. We are used to be exposed to worldwide maps made from national boundries. What about if we could reshape the world on the basis of another geographical data? The most interesting effect of the project is that we can be able to identify the world, the continents, even some national boundries, without them being drawn.


It is usually said that “What is not named, does not exist”. This project aims to reflect on this idea and goes beyond: “What is not charted does not exist…?”

Project links: