May 19, 2013

The Art of Data Visualization | Visual Representation of Complex Information

**Creative Sunday Series 

The Art of Data Visualization: How to Tell Complex Stories Through Smart Design featuring Edward Tufte, one of the greatest forces behind data visualization and the art of designing complex data.
Showing information began with cartography about 6,000 years ago when the first map was scratched onto a piece of stone, and it has now become the most widely seen visualization of the world, Google Maps.
There are 3 things that should inform your design:
1. the designer (you) : what do you want to communicate?2. the reader: has their own content, biases, and assumptions that the designer (you) need to account for.3. the data: what it has to say and how that informs the truth? 
We react to design, art and the aesthetics of the piece just as much as we react to the information contained in it. If you want to change someone's mind and behavior, then presenting the information in a visual format is the fastest way to engage with that information. 
‘‘Every single pixel should testify directly to content.’’ - Edward Tufte

Cartography and mapping has always been an interest and hobby of mine, not only as a design professional but as an individual. Trying to understand maps not only as aesthetic  visual artwork, but really understand the story they're telling. 
Nowadays, technology has made this information even more complex: statistically, visually, spatially. In essence most complex data visualizations have the human component and how human activity, behavior, thought process, etc. may seem non-essential when following one person but when following a whole group - connections, patters and other complex relationships are created and take shape - data that not only informs us about the actual science of life on earth but also the deeper understanding and interpretation of emerging human cultures.  

One of my favorites is Napoleon's March by Charles Joseph Minard. It portrays the losses suffered by Napoleon's army in the Russian campaign of 1812.


All of you interested in data visualization and artfully telling stories of complex information data through design, I would absolutely recommend checking out the work of Edward Tufte.

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