Adventures in data visualisation

The great graphic designer Abram Games was the UK's official war poster artist and continued to create iconic images after the war.  He would test his designs with friends and family - including his children.  If they could not quickly grasp and explain the meaning of the image he would discard his work and start again.  A great image can convey at a glance what may take 1000 words or a ream of numbers to communicate.   At this month's SameAs meeting in London, an interest in data visualisation brought together the widest range of speakers imaginable including statisticans and creative designers and artists.Jade Davies is a graphic and visual designer who is interested in emotional responses to visual representation.  Her project, Emotionalisation, involved her ‘using her own emotions as a data source' and representing this data as pins on a model's face to bring the data to life. The pins map the Jade's emotions on a difficult day in her final year at university.  The image is a striking representation of ‘fuzzy data'.  Stefanie Posavec's 'writing without words' projects result in stunning visuals of writing styles and texts.  Meanwhile, Brock Craft of the London Knowledge Lab showed how he used publicly available data to map the patterns of usage of London's 'bikes for hire' schemes, creating mesmerising videos that show the flow of bikes across the city.  The Guardian data blog also uses public data to tell stories,  show trends and engage users - for example in the interactive 'budget cutting' feature that was lauched during the UK election in 2010.  Truly, information can be beautiful!