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Home » The Beauty of Data Visualization: David McCandless (Transcript)

The Beauty of Data Visualization: David McCandless (Transcript)

David McCandless

David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections.


It feels like we’re all suffering from information overload or data glut. And the good news is there might be an easy solution to that, and that’s using our eyes more.

So, visualizing information, so that we can see the patterns and connections that matter and then designing that information so it makes more sense, or it tells a story, or allows us to focus only on the information that’s important.

Failing that, visualized information can just look really cool. So, let’s see.

This is the $Billion Dollar o-Gram, and this image arose out of frustration I had with the reporting of billion-dollar amounts in the press. That is, they’re meaningless without context: 500 billion for this pipeline, 20 billion for this war. It doesn’t make any sense, so the only way to understand it is visually and relatively.

So I scraped a load of reported figures from various news outlets and then scaled the boxes according to those amounts. And the colors here represent the motivation behind the money. So purple is “fighting,” and red is “giving money away,” and green is “profiteering.”

And what you can see straight away is you start to have a different relationship to the numbers. You can literally see them. But more importantly, you start to see patterns and connections between numbers that would otherwise be scattered across multiple news reports.

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