David McCandless: The Beauty of Data Visualization

David McCandless describes data as the “new soil” since it’s a fertile medium that nurtures flowers of understanding. He creates aesthetically pleasing infographics that use shapes and colors to show patterns and connections in data, such as a 3D timeline called “Mountains Out of Molehills” that shows how non-issues (such as the Y2K bug) receive excessive coverage in the media during periods when there is no major news.

McCandless is a London-based author, designer and self-described data journalist who runs the blog Information Is Beautiful. He has contributed articles and graphic designs to dozens of international publications, including Wired and The Guardian. He designs data sets and graphic elements in unexpected ways, such as mapping the number of drug deaths reported in the UK media each year against the number of actual deaths.

As a designer and wordsmith, McCandless is able to describe how combining the language of the eye with the language of the mind enhances our understanding of complex data. He believes that the Web has turned us all into visualizers for whom processing graphic information is effortless. According to McCandless, data visualization is becoming increasingly important because it enables knowledge compression, allowing an enormous amount of information to be packed into a small space. Watch his TED Talk: The Beauty of Data Visualization.