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September 14, 2010

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization

1 comment
About this talk: David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut -- and it may just change the way we see the world.

Some quotes that stuck with me:
  • Relative figures are needed to connect to other data so we can see a fuller picture that can lead to us changing our perspective.
  • Data can change your perspective and change your mind midstream.
  • Design is about solving problems and providing elegant solutions. Information design is about solving information problems.
  • Visualizing information can give us a very quick solution to problems. We can get clarity or the answer to a simple problem very quickly.

Pass it along!

1 comment :

  1. While the quotes that you pulled are good, I think the visualizations he creates are qualitatively misleading at best, and commonly a distortion of the truth, especially in regards to how we process visual representations of data.

    In his example of using relative figures, he uses a sized icon for each country, making it difficult to accurately compare the countries to each other. For his tree-map, he uses absolute values, but they do not have context (not adhering to your first pulled quote) so the story the viz tells can be misleading. In the viz for volcano vs airplanes, is it the height or the area of the triangles we should be comparing? In the viz of scare stories, I agree that can be some interesting trends, but they are overlain without the same axis, they are juxtaposed.

    In my opinion, these visualizations are examples of how to not to create a visual quantitative analysis, something similar to The Visualization Cargo Cult.