Sep 13, 2010

TED Talk by David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization

Here is an interesting (and very new) TED Talk by David McCandless which I discovered while randomly surfing the TED website. If you happen to be taking a break (say in office) or browsing the net just after dinner and have 20 minutes to spare, visit ted.com and click on any TED talk which you find interesting. Chances are, you won't be disappointed.

So here we go. David talks about data visualisation in his talk.



His talk is essentially very simple. I have summarised my 3 important take-aways here:

1. Data in isolation is not very meaningful. It does not reveal the total picture. You need to present data in some context. Suppose you are presenting this data; India's military budget is $ XYZ billion. This makes less sense in isolation. But once you look at it in relation to some other data point (say military budget of US) then you get a better picture. Comparison makes data more meaningful.

2. When you visualise data you see patterns and trends which were hidden till then.

3. Colours and shapes are the language of the eye. Data and numbers, the language of the brain. If we combine the two with data visualisation, we can understand and analyse better. Data visualisation brings in more clarity.