I recently came across this interesting talk by Richard Ingram on Data Visualization …you can find the link to the site and the rest of the article at the bottom.
”A fews weeks ago in late October I had the pleasure of speaking at CS Forum 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa. I couldn’t have been more excited by the prospect of talking before an audience of content professionals about a subject that’s become very near to my heart for the past couple of years: visualising data. Here is a transcript of my talk”
Visualising Data: Seeing is Believing
As humans, our ability to observe and analyse the contents of the world around us is both unique and astonishing, but so too is our capacity to form verbal and visual concepts. These seem to be the principal factors which have worked to our adaptive advantage in competition with other animal species. We are, in one respect at least, superior to other animals because we have developed a greater variety of systems of communication and expression, and one of these is art.
Indeed, some of the earliest known preserved examples of human expression (Figure 1) demonstrate our incredible ability to bring chaotic and complex environments under control through the magic of art, because to illustrate something is to transform it into whatever form or shape we want. And though we’ll never know for certain what our prehistoric ancestors were thinking when they painted pictures of cows, horses, bison and deer on the walls of caves, it is thought that because their paintings showed large and dangerous wild animals rather than humans, that this was their attempt to bring them under control — to tame them. It’s an interesting theory, particularly when we consider how many of these animals would come to be domesticated by humans thousands of years in the future.
So if art and other forms of creative expression are the power to transform and interpret, then science is the great identifier and unifier, and there a few better collisions of these two cultures than a diagram.
Our history is littered with instantly recognisable diagrams (Figure 2). At their most potent they have the ability to express complex ideas simply, and an intellectual and artistic beauty that has the power to shift our perspectives or change our mind about things. Often it’s that desire for simplicity and beauty that leads to the truth. Read more….