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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Data visualization continued: The beauty of statistics

Data visualization continued: The beauty of statistics (not an oxymoron)

As a continuation of my last post on the presentation of data, and how essential it is to communicate science to a larger population outside the "constraints" of scientific journals alone, here are a few videos and a website that the data-fiends among you will love!  It also buys me some time, since I'm rather snowed under with work at the moment!

Last time, I introduced David McCandless, a designer who runs a great site called Information is Beautiful.  Below is a video of his TED Talk, where he presents some of his data visualizations.  Good to watch!

Then second, and a presentation that more than a few of you sent me, is a TED Talk by Hans Rosling, a medical doctor who is Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute in Sweden.  His talk, using software developed to show statistical trends in the world's population economics and demographics, is one of the great achievements in data presentation (that I have seen anyway).

I was going to post this clip last time, but I didn't want to go overboard, but it's a great addition to the examples of excellent data visualization.

And for more of the same, visit Hans Rosling's website, GapMinder.  Whether or not you are interested in the actual content (statistics and trends of everything ranging from CO2 emissions to HIV prevalance), the way in which the data is shared, managed and then presented is mind-blowing. 

Of course, not everyone has such powerful software, and so you may be thinking this is all good and well, but beyond your capacity without the technology.  Which is understandable, but I would stress that the ability to simplify and present complex ideas in a simple, accurate and easy to follow manner is more about thought process and the discipline of translating data, with the software being the front end and nice to have, but not essential.  The goal is to have the ability to present the idea using a pencil and paper if that's what you have available!