Information is beautiful

In March 2014 on March 17, 2014 at 2:14 pm

kirsti Data visualisation

Kirsti: The other night I was obsessing over data from an ex-student of mine. I love making graphs, tables and figures for scientific papers. It’s true. But when it’s number, after number, after number…that just turns into a line or a dot on a traditional graph; well, let’s just say I started dreaming of something new.

Luckily, my friend Heidi diverted me into a wonderful procrastination vortex of data visualisation.

Information is beautiful. It really is, especially when it aligns with your own unique way of relating to it, and whether it be pictures, icons, colours, black and white photography, graphs or infographics.

David McCandless has produced some wonderful data visualisations which I have spent many a lost moment gazing at (he also gives a nice, calm, thoughtful TED talk).

This wonderful visualisation of the thickness of ice age frozen sheets from xkcd emerged in Sarah’s Facebook feed today, reinforcing the fact that often numbers mean nothing unless they can be compared to something familiar.

Inspired, now I’m looking for new ways to think about information. I’m inclined to start here, a list of data visualisation tools for web designers.

Perhaps we should we be using these tools to teach our students to communicate their data more effectively?

[image thanks to eliazar on flickr]


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