Making Data Tell a Story

Loved these quotes from the Economist’s review of Nathan Yau’s book Data Points: Visualisation That Means Something, but felt they were a little too long and specific.

IN THE late 1700s William Playfair, a Scottish engineer, created the bar chart, pie chart and line graph. The amounted to visual breakthroughs, innovations that allowed people to see patterns in data that they would otherwise have missed if they just stared at long tables of numbers.

Translating data into images allows people to spot patterns, anomalies, proportions and relationships. When done well, it lets the eye create the narrative; people teach themselves, rather than being told. Neurologically, humans use a different part of the brain when information is presented visually rather than through numbers. The right hemisphere handles imagery; the left is more analytical. Seeing data pictorially makes good use of both sides of the brain and lets one grasp meaning more quickly.

Can’t wait to read the book.