Tuesday, January 11, 2011

LWF11 - David McCandless, Author & Information Designer

Visualising Information

David (author of the Design Is Beautiful blog) says we are in a blizzard of information - we need to be able to design ways of visualising data in a way that can make them beautiful, that can make them tell a story, that can make them more understandable.

We can see connections when visualised properly. David showed some Billion Dollar O Grams which try to build a bridge to see the proportions and to help us make sense of it. Our minds find it difficult to make sense of huge numbers.

He showed a graph of world fear as reported in the media. It was fascinating to see patterns and cycles emerge. One interesting aspect was the way all the fears dipped at the start of the war in Afghanistan - a time when real fears pushed out the more manufactured ones.

Also talked about the need to contextualise data. For example, China has the largest army but when you compare it to the size of its population it drops way down the table.

"Let the data set change your mindset." -- Hans Rosling

Visualising lets you summarise and condense information. Also, by creating the visualistion, you can learn about yourself in the process.

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