Good data visualization should take stale spreadsheets and turn them into a story: an image with a clear and succinct meaning. The two main purposes are sense-making and communication. Within that is quick pattern finding, story telling, focusing in on important information.
I’ve chosen a few pages from around the internet for each of the following topics: introduction to data visualization, good storytelling, and some resources + inspiration.
INTRODUCTION TO CONCEPTS
In this quick video introduction to data visualization, David McCandless presents powerful imagery on statistics that hit home. Here are a few quotes that stuck out to me:
“You see patterns and connections amongst number that would otherwise be scattered across several news reports”
“We turn data into a landscape you can explore with your eyes, a map. When you’re lost in information, a map is kind of useful”
I can’t help but share this very lively and entertaining video with a major twist at the ending. Hans Rosling animatedly tells the story of world data on poverty with a backdrop of dynamic visualizations. Check it out.
Why isn’t data visualization more popular?
Some thinking from back in 2008 about reasons dataviz isn’t more popular. What, if anything has changed since then? Have we gotten more accustomed to seeing data visualized? At the very least, the trend of infographics should’ve changed that.
This is one of my current favorites. It manages to mix local phenomena, some snark, and winds up with some quick stories in otherwise dry bar charts. I’m not sure why they chose to name them “made up” charts — aren’t they all?
Famous Movie Quotes as Charts
Just for fun, here are 100 famous movie quotes, in chart form. “In celebration of their 100-year anniversary, the American Film Institute selected the 100 most memorable quotes from American cinema.” Nathan Yau from flowingdata.com made them into charts.
This is a visualizer that, after you log in with your email account (like Gmail, MS Exchange, or Yahoo), shows you a social network graph of who you’ve been in contact with. You can scroll back and forth in time and see e-communication get more or less frequent – reminding you of a project you worked on with someone a few years back, a relationship where you sent lots of e-love-notes, or a job you used to have. Pretty neat. There’s also a cute demo (link: https://immersion.media.mit.edu/demo) in the case that you don’t want to give MIT access to all your emails.
RESOURCES AND INSPIRATION
It’s not the easiest way to see all the visualizations, but it’s kind of fun and interactive.
This page has a round-up of 50 images, many of which are network-like, that shows the variety within data visualizations. Great for inspiration if you have some data to show off!