Somewhere out there designers and programmers have arrived at the conclusion that users wouldn’t mind information overload if that information appeared in a pleasant graphic form. While looking at raw numbers can be an exercise in tedium, viewing those same raw numbers in graphical or animated form can be delightful. At least this is the thinking being applied by Ben Fry and Edward Tufte. And to be honest the idea has been around for decades. Tufte wrote, “The Visual Display of Information,” almost three decades ago. Tufte advocated for a user-friendly approach to data presentation. Even the usual charts and graphs were unacceptable if they were cluttered and unorganized. As for Power Point, well, just don’t get him started.
Most recently, Ben Fry has received a lot of attention for combining computer science with statistics with graphics design, all of which leads to designed data. He’s also heavily involved in Processing, the open-source visual design software. Fry is committed to the idea that when presenters apply design thinking to data they can reach a broader audience. This approach requires an artistic and scientific vision for analyzing and presenting data. Obviously, this topic has appeared here before and we continue to repeat it because we like the idea of art combined with science. So don’t just compile data, design it.
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