I’ve been listening to a new podcast about big data, data mining and data visualization while running and It got me thinking about the way that data is presented.
In the lab, beautiful data means clarity and precision of results with the assumption that the observer can do the work to understand with a minimum of assistance. Here’s some cell proliferation data using CFSE (a dye that stains cells and is diluted every time a cell divides):
Whereas, outside of the laboratory, data is best presented in a way that clearly expresses the message with the least possible explicit explanation. I collected five info graphics from the web that I thought accomplished this goal the best (and presented data I was at least partially interested in)
A beautiful visualization of population density across the United States down by Time magazine:
The legend serves only to translate scale into actual numbers, but the meaning is clear enough without actually needing it at all.
Here Forbes media shows what source of media predominates in each of the United States:
This media info graphic does the best to illustrate that sometimes the information used to create an info graphic is close to worthless, but can still make a compelling presentation. As such, this probably represents the best argument against these presentations. “Is this information really worth knowing?” -or- “Is this really information at all?”
Mmmm Coffee. I certainly do love coffee…
Some data that’s a little more serious: The good work of vaccines is invisible. It’s very hard to wake up and look out on the world and think, I sure am glad so many people are not getting sick from vaccine-preventable illness. Here’s a way to actually see that:
Lastly, how does your level of education correlate with salary and your chance of being unemployed? These are numbers that perhaps every parent should consider when talking to their child about their educational goals.
I can’t say that I’m receiving that lest benefit currently, but perhaps I should consider it motivating.