Watch: The Art of Data Visualization

by Scott Hoffman on May 15, 2013

A good data visualization communicates ideas instantly, but designing one can be a complex task—it’s more than just throwing together colors and shapes. A well-designed graphic can completely change how we perceive information, and how data should always trump style. “Aesthetics cannot rescue failed content,” says data visualization pioneer Ed Tufte. “There are enormously beautiful visualizations, but that’s a byproduct of the truth and goodness of the information.” Careful information design is paramount to pulling it off.

Humans have a powerful capacity to process visual information, skills that date far back in our evolutionary lineage. And since the advent of science, we have employed intricate visual strategies to communicate data, often utilizing design principles that draw on these basic cognitive skills. In a modern world where we have far more data than we can process, the practice of data visualization has gained even more importance. From scientific visualization to pop infographics, designers are increasingly tasked with incorporating data into the media experience. Data has emerged as such a critical part of modern life that it has entered into the realm of art, where data-driven visual experiences challenge viewers to find personal meaning from a sea of information, a task that is increasingly present in every aspect of our information-infused lives.

The amazing video features: Edward Tufte, Yale University, Julie Steele, O’Reilly Media, Josh Smith, Hyperakt, & Jer Thorp, Office for Creative Research

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