Saturday, August 28, 2010

Making Information Beautiful

The arts have traditionally been a refuge for those who don't enjoy or trust science and math. This makes it difficult for some art educators to warm up to design and visual communication because these areas utilize several languages working at the same time - the language of the eye (images, objects, places and experiences) and the languages of words and numbers.

Dave McCandless (left) finds beauty in visualizing information so we can see the patterns and connections that matter and then designing that information so it makes more sense or tells a story that allows us to focus on the information that is important. He argues that combining the language of the eye with the language of the mind allows us to start speaking two languages simultaneously with each enhancing the other. He provides many examples in his book "Information is Beautiful" (right).

At a time when information overload and data saturation causes a breakdown of trust and runaway skepticism we need to use data visualization to help us make sense of this data glut. McCandless says, "Visualizing information is a form of knowledge compression. It's a way of squeezing an enormous amount of information and understanding into a small space."

Visual education for the 21st century needs to include visual communication and design along with the traditional art and visual culture.

Click on the heading above to hear McCandless' presentation at TED.

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