Data Visualization: Exploring the world past 0.7% [VIDEO]

How can we use art, design, and technology to understand complex issues, make better decisions, and become more aware of the world around us? In part, through data visualization.

A few weeks ago I posted an article highlighting some of the new interactive resources made available by the UNDP to help individuals traverse the 2010 Human Development Report.  I was particularly excited about these tools because they represented a concerted effort on the UN’s part to fundamentally rethink their methods with regard to presenting data, and through doing so, create a more accessible and engaging experience for the average reader.

Why does this matter?

First and foremost, few of us are statisticians.  In fact, I would go as far as to suggest that many of the people responsible for working with such large numbers are not able to fully comprehend their meaning.  I, for example, have written a number of  articles about HIV/AIDS that discuss the “35 million people infected”, or “25 million deaths”, yet I can say with great certainty that I have almost no comprehension of what ONE million looks like.  (In case you were wondering, this is what a million dots look like)

Recently, however, David McCandless presented at TED and offered a more comprehensive look at how data visualization can help people conceptualize complex issues, change ingrained perceptions, and affectively solve problems.  While McCandless’ presentation touches on complex issues related to foreign debt, militarization, and CO2 emissions, its purpose is to fundamentally shift how data is presented, and by doing so, help everyone expand, if only slightly, the white pixel in the image above.

Check out the following video and push your level of awareness past 0.7%.

“…design is about solving problems and providing elegant solutions. And information design is about solving information problems. And it feels like we have a lot of information problems in our society at the moment, from the overload and saturation to the breakdown of trust and reliability and runaway skepticism and lack of transparency, or even just interestingness.”

To view a few other interesting examples of Data Visualization, check out Smashing Magazines article: Data Visualization: Modern Approaches.

Video Source: “David McCandless: The Beauty of Data Visualization | Video on” TED: Ideas worth Spreading. July 2010. Web. 23 Nov. 2010. <>.


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Categories: Editorials and Reports, Technology



  1. Notes from the Field in 2011: Addictions, Failures, and Resolutions « Notes from the Field - January 13, 2011

    […] new for me. While I began to explore the topic this past year by focusing on social media, data visualization, and new UN publication tools among others, it is clear that I have largely missed the boat. I hope […]

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