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A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...



Posts tagged "information design"

Jul 26, 2013
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Hmmmmm. I’ve always liked this diagram by Nigel Holmes. Whether you believe in the right brain / left brain split (it’s really more of a metaphor than an actual biological truth), I’ve always felt like I had “easy access to both sides of the brain.”

Making art and writing about art are two totally different things—which is why a lot of great artists can’t tell you shit about how they work.

As for the short stories: I don’t write them anymore, and I hope to God nobody finds the ones I used to write. They were terrible.

Ask me anything you can’t Google.

May 13, 2013
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HERE IS TODAY

An interactive art/science HTML5 site illustrating the scale of time on Earth.

In case you needed reminding of your insignificance.

(thx gwenda)

Mar 03, 2013
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Jan 04, 2013
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Comics and Information Design

A map I doodled way back in 2007, back when I was thinking about going to design school. (I got in, but moved to Texas with my wife, instead…)

Comics and Information Design

A map I doodled way back in 2007, back when I was thinking about going to design school. (I got in, but moved to Texas with my wife, instead…)

Nov 01, 2011
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May 22, 2011
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Some notes I took of the book Cartographies of Time, which you will probably like if you are a Tufte/infographics nerd.

Some notes I took of the book Cartographies of Time, which you will probably like if you are a Tufte/infographics nerd.

May 16, 2011
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I purposely don’t write books with names like How to Design a Web Site or How to Make a Presentation.
— Edward Tufte, on his quest “to be indifferent to culture or history or time” in search of “forever knowledge,” quoted in this great Washington Monthly profile

May 07, 2011
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Florence Nightingale: The Passionate Statistician - Science News

Who knew Florence Nightingale was a big infographics nerd? And speaking of our love of circles:

As impressive as her statistics were, Nightingale worried that Queen Victoria’s eyes would glaze over as she scanned the tables. So Nightingale devised clever ways of presenting the information in charts…

Nightingale’s best-known graphic has come to be known as a “coxcomb.” It is a variation on the familiar modern pie graph, showing the number of deaths each month and their causes.

Each month is represented as a twelfth of a circle. Months with more deaths are shown with longer wedges, so that the area of each wedge represents the number of deaths in that month from wounds, disease or other causes. For months during the first part of the war, the blue wedges, representing disease, are far larger than either the red ones (for wounds) or the black ones (for other causes). For months after March 1855, when the Sanitary Commission arrived, the blue wedges start becoming dramatically smaller.

The conventional way of presenting this information would have been a bar graph, which William Playfair had created a few decades earlier. Nightingale may have preferred the coxcomb graphic to the bar graph because it places the same month in different years in the same position on the circle, allowing for easy comparison across seasons. It also makes for an arresting image. She said her coxcomb graph was designed “to affect thro’ the Eyes what we fail to convey to the public through their word-proof ears.”

Florence Nightingale: The Passionate Statistician - Science News

Who knew Florence Nightingale was a big infographics nerd? And speaking of our love of circles:

As impressive as her statistics were, Nightingale worried that Queen Victoria’s eyes would glaze over as she scanned the tables. So Nightingale devised clever ways of presenting the information in charts…

Nightingale’s best-known graphic has come to be known as a “coxcomb.” It is a variation on the familiar modern pie graph, showing the number of deaths each month and their causes.

Each month is represented as a twelfth of a circle. Months with more deaths are shown with longer wedges, so that the area of each wedge represents the number of deaths in that month from wounds, disease or other causes. For months during the first part of the war, the blue wedges, representing disease, are far larger than either the red ones (for wounds) or the black ones (for other causes). For months after March 1855, when the Sanitary Commission arrived, the blue wedges start becoming dramatically smaller.

The conventional way of presenting this information would have been a bar graph, which William Playfair had created a few decades earlier. Nightingale may have preferred the coxcomb graphic to the bar graph because it places the same month in different years in the same position on the circle, allowing for easy comparison across seasons. It also makes for an arresting image. She said her coxcomb graph was designed “to affect thro’ the Eyes what we fail to convey to the public through their word-proof ears.”

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A takedown of David McCandless by Stephen Few

Too many of his visualizations display information in ways that hide much that’s relevant and essential, leaving little of value for the viewer to see. McCandless rarely chooses forms of display that our eyes and brains can perceive with ease and precision. He selects what will appeal superficially to the viewer (lots of circles, swirls, and vibrant colors), not what will most effectively express what’s essential and meaningful. His displays rarely draw viewers into the data in a thoughtful way, but entertain in a way that delivers a simple message, which is often anemic when compared to the richer, subtler, and more complex stories that live in the data.McCandless is a creator of infographics: combinations of words and graphics that are designed to communicate specific messages. On those rare occasions when his infographics lend themselves to data exploration and analysis, they do so in limited and awkward ways, asking viewers to perform data surgery with blunt instruments. Infographics of this type attempt to tell a story. In McCandless’ case, the stories that they usually tell, if communicated in words alone, would require only a short sentence or two. They make a simple statement in a way that looks lighthearted and fun. As such, they invite viewers to accept the message superficially, not to explore or contemplate deeply. This is not the true realm of analytics.

Emphasis mine. I’ve been thinking lately about how many “infographics” I see would be so much more easily summed up by a single sentence or two.

I’m suddenly reminded of my friend Jessica Hagy, and her wonderful venn diagrams, Indexed, and how she constructs them: she starts with sentences and word equations and breaks the verbal grammar into the visual grammar of charts — she actually breaks down the meaning of the sentence in order to construct the puzzle of her charts…

Of course, the argument for infographics like this, I would think, is that the color and aesthetic pulls the viewer in, and the deciphering process actually forces them to spend more time with the information…kind of how recent studies have shown that bad fonts that have to be deciphered  lead to better memory retention.

There is strong theoretical justification to believe that disfluency could lead to improved retention and classroom performance. Disfluency has been shown to lead people to process information more deeply, more abstractly, more carefully, and yield better comprehension, all of which are critical to effective learning.

These are the things I think about at 1:13 a.m. on a Friday night.

A takedown of David McCandless by Stephen Few

Too many of his visualizations display information in ways that hide much that’s relevant and essential, leaving little of value for the viewer to see. McCandless rarely chooses forms of display that our eyes and brains can perceive with ease and precision. He selects what will appeal superficially to the viewer (lots of circles, swirls, and vibrant colors), not what will most effectively express what’s essential and meaningful. His displays rarely draw viewers into the data in a thoughtful way, but entertain in a way that delivers a simple message, which is often anemic when compared to the richer, subtler, and more complex stories that live in the data.

McCandless is a creator of infographics: combinations of words and graphics that are designed to communicate specific messages. On those rare occasions when his infographics lend themselves to data exploration and analysis, they do so in limited and awkward ways, asking viewers to perform data surgery with blunt instruments. Infographics of this type attempt to tell a story. In McCandless’ case, the stories that they usually tell, if communicated in words alone, would require only a short sentence or two. They make a simple statement in a way that looks lighthearted and fun. As such, they invite viewers to accept the message superficially, not to explore or contemplate deeply. This is not the true realm of analytics.

Emphasis mine. I’ve been thinking lately about how many “infographics” I see would be so much more easily summed up by a single sentence or two.

I’m suddenly reminded of my friend Jessica Hagy, and her wonderful venn diagrams, Indexed, and how she constructs them: she starts with sentences and word equations and breaks the verbal grammar into the visual grammar of charts — she actually breaks down the meaning of the sentence in order to construct the puzzle of her charts…

Of course, the argument for infographics like this, I would think, is that the color and aesthetic pulls the viewer in, and the deciphering process actually forces them to spend more time with the information…kind of how recent studies have shown that bad fonts that have to be deciphered lead to better memory retention.

There is strong theoretical justification to believe that disfluency could lead to improved retention and classroom performance. Disfluency has been shown to lead people to process information more deeply, more abstractly, more carefully, and yield better comprehension, all of which are critical to effective learning.

These are the things I think about at 1:13 a.m. on a Friday night.

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Our Irresistible Fascination with All Things Circular by Stephen Few [PDF]

Article makes a great case against pie charts and most circular displays of data.

…nothing that I teach is met with such fierce opposition as my low opinion of [pie charts]. People cling to them aggressively. But it is almost always difficult to compare the slices of a pie, because visual perception supports only rough comparisons of areas and angles, which are the two primary ways that pie charts encode quantities.

Our Irresistible Fascination with All Things Circular by Stephen Few [PDF]

Article makes a great case against pie charts and most circular displays of data.

…nothing that I teach is met with such fierce opposition as my low opinion of [pie charts]. People cling to them aggressively. But it is almost always difficult to compare the slices of a pie, because visual perception supports only rough comparisons of areas and angles, which are the two primary ways that pie charts encode quantities.

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