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A Year in Visualization

We’ve made a case for visual processes in the workplace time and time again this year. In case you blinked and missed a post, or perhaps are just joining us, here’s a rundown of some of my personal favorites:

Visualization is Genius, Not Juvenile

We’ve always heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, so now that we’re virtually drowning in words (hey, information overload!) you’d think companies would be jumping at the chance to condense data using this well-known method. Unfortunately, that hasn’t exactly been the case.

In this post, we highlight Sunni Brown, leader of The Doodle Revolution: “No wonder people are averse to doodling at work,” she says. “Doing nothing at work is akin to masturbating at work! It’s totally inappropriate!”

We certainly can’t overcome cultural biases overnight, but we can and should continue to fight the good fight. Along with her crew, Brown works to prove that doodling doesn’t mean doing nothing; that it is in fact the only process that involves each of the four modalities by which we absorb information: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic.

Information Design: Let the Data set Change the Mindset

In this post we cover how different types of visualizations can assist some of our most important and demanding efforts. What I think we’re learning — or perhaps relearning — at this time and place in our lives is that there’s more to visualization than meets the eye (ha). If information design can help us recover from painful disasters, lessen our biases and even humanize us, then don’t we owe it to ourselves to do what we can to make sense of our own collective genius?

Visualizing Our Humanity

In a recent TED talk featuring Aaron Koblin, he demonstrates the power of visualizations — particularly the ability to take something that would otherwise be extremely overwhelming and instead distill it in several visualizations making it much more digestible.

The Visual Revolution

In this post, we cover the mind of travel photographer Trey Ratcliff. “We’re starting to use images to communicate in a new way with one another. Imagery is a universal language that has no borders and described truths and stories that all humans can recognize,” he writes.

Capturing Memories (and People) with Visualization

Gabriel Barcia-Colombo’s so-called “collection of human beings” is one such example of how people use visualizations to create and inspire. In an effort to preserve memory, Barcia-Colombo uses video to create the illusion of miniature people — particularly his friends — encased in ordinary objects, such as jam jars. Proximity sensors make them interactive so that when someone approaches the installation, the jarred people actually react. “You know, just like people on the street when you get too close to them,” he said. “Some people react in terror.  Others react [by] asking you for help, and some people hide from you.”

Data Vis Trends Favor Simple Design

Finally, a look into the future of visualization via the Information is Beautiful Awards. Created by David McCandless, founder of the popular site, the entries were split into six categories and evaluated by an all-star panel of judges.

“We were blown away by the standard and variety of the entries,” said McCandless in an interview with Wired. “We had quite a few from Russia, where visual data is a strong design skill. We also had entries from Brazil, and a lot from eastern countries including China and South Korea — it shows that visual data is spreading.”

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