October 3, 2008
I have just been given a fabulous new book created by a recent arrival at IDEO, Ferdi van Heerden for publishers Gestalten. It's called Data Flow and takes a look at data visualization in graphic design. This has long been the domain of Edward Tufte and Richard Saul Wurman but Data Flow does a great job of showing a diverse range of work from designers worldwide. Some of the work wins more points for aesthetic elegance than for information clarity, which somewhat defeats the point, but there are plenty of examples of innovative and effective ways of communicating complex data. My favorites includes World Mapper which connects a world map to data such that each country is scaled to represent its true scale for whatever topic is being displayed. Jessica Hagy with her wonderful and humorous index card graphs shows how graphical information can represent humanity. Xavier Barrade makes sense of the concept often used describing the loss of Amazonian rainforest based on the number of football (soccer) pitch equivalents by literally drawing the pitches onto aerial photos of the Amazon. It's worth checking out for some great visual inspiration.