Bringing data to life

Example of Wordle picture
Example of Wordle picture

No-one can argue against the fact that the internet has revolutionised the way we communicate. We have never had such amazing access to information – be it opinions, comments, blogs, reports, research or news. But with it comes an inherent danger of everyone suffering information overload as they try to sift through the endlessly growing cloud of knowledge.

 The web has also evolved massively over the last 20 years with the potential of the data it contains only really starting to be unlocked now. It is often cited that data is the currency that drives our online world. But with so many figures floating around it can sometimes be hard to get to the real information and understand what it all means.

 This is why I have grown to love the amazing visualisations that are becoming increasingly popular. Just last week Business Week posted an article on the 21 heroes of data visualisation.

Another example of people using pictures to process information can be seen with Wordle, which is a site that lets you create word maps using any piece of text. This is great to instantly pinpoint the essence of the text, based on how frequently a word is used.

 The next level of complexity can produce even more interesting results. Diagrams like the regular info porn slot in Wired Magazine allow us to see what research and data is really telling us.

 As we consume information and knowledge in different ways so too must the methods we use to publish this information change. It makes sense that we learn in different ways, so whilst some people will undoubtedly be nonplussed about these new types of diagrams, others will find them fascinating. Or maybe, it’s just the geek in me talking.


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