Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘data visualization’

29 JUNE, 2009

Data Visualization: The Colors of Democracy

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What dots and colors have to do with the war on political corruption.

You know data visualization is big when you see it on one of those 4 x 6 postcards distributed in bars. In Bulgaria.

Spotted recently: The Colors of Democracy, a flyer displaying voting results by party affiliation for Bulgarian Parliament elections since the fall of Communism.

The Colors of Democracy

The Colors of Democracy: Voter color preference in Bulgarian Parliament elections.

It's time to vote again on July 5. Don't act rashly. Think!

Each dot represents the official color of a specific Bulgarian party — the visualization clearly shows the declining grip of the conservative party (in red), the one most closely aligned with Communist ideology. More importantly, it shows the proliferation of alternative viewpoints and the diversification of the political landscape — a sign of hope in the dialogue on democracy.

The postcard — printed and distributed independently by Bulgarian designer Mihail Mihaylov — is part of a PSA campaign aiming to combat the vote-buying allegations plaguing the upcoming Parliament elections, encouraging people to vote based on judgment, not incentive. Political analysts have estimated that up to 12 million BGN, roughly $8.6 million, have been allocated to vote trade, a devastating slap in the face of democracy.

The back of the card reads, “Vote by conscience! Your vote is not for sale.”

This is important for two reasons. For one, it’s a timely dialogue to be had, in light of the recent unrest surrounding the Iranian elections — a gory example of vote fraud and the severely undemocratic ways in which protests against it were handled.

Secondly, it’s uplifting to see a thriving undercurrent of grassroots democracy activism among a nation slammed by The New York Times as a country whose entire political system is one big money-laundering machine for the mob.

The paradox, of course, is that the people this messaging is likely to resonate with are probably those already aligned with the very platform of the PSA campaign and thus least in need of an intervention. But that’s the fundamental folly of all cause marketing, so we’ll have to take it for what it is.

25 JUNE, 2009

5:1 Student Design Show

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Untainted design thinking, or what 200 students have to do with the world of 100.

Here’s to spotting tomorrow’s great design thinkers today: The London College of Communication’s School of Graphic Design is holding its annual degree show this week, titled 5:1 — an exhibition showcasing work by the program’s 200 graduates.

Although the show is divided into five segments reflecting the program’s central pathways — Information Design, Advertising, Typo/graphic, Illustration and Interaction & Moving Image — it fosters interdisciplinary curiosity, featuring cross-pollinated, experimental work across all facets of design.

Creative, compelling, provocative — it’s all the things we want design to be, oozing the freshness of minds not yet tainted by industry expectation and artistic grandeur.

We couldn’t help noticing that some of the work in the Information Design focuses on the symbolic representation of the world as a 100 people — perhaps a course professor stumbled across Toby Ng’s brilliant World of 100 poster series we featured a while ago, and repurposed it as a brief to students? Regardless, some of the interpretations struck our fancy.

5:1 opens to the public tomorrow and closes July 3, so if you’re in the London area, stop by Elephant & Castle SE1 6SB for a burst of delightful design freshness.

09 JUNE, 2009

In-Formed: Physical Objects as Data Visualization

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The other side of our silver platter, or what dinnerware and Africa have in common.

Data visualization is of special stature around here and makes frequent cameos — usually in the form of beautifully designed infographics or high-tech jaw-droppers. But designer Nadeem Haidary is creating a form of data viz so unorthodox and unexpected it constitutes its own genre — physical objects modified to visualize statistics about the activities they’re involved in.

The project, titled In-Formed, is part data visualization, part industrial design, part social awareness, exposing little-known facts designed to effect actual behavioral change by inspiring us to be a bit less wasteful.

It consists of three case studies, each embedding contextually relevant information into everyday objects related to the data.

Each prong represents the per-capita countries caloric intake of a different country. Each fork depicts the United States and three other countries ordered alphabetically.

[Statistics] may be striking when you first read them, but without context or placement in the physical world, they are rarely remembered and rarely change people’s behavior. What if this kind of information crawled off the page and seeped into the products that surround us?

The surface area of each of plate is proportionate to the food consumption in the region depicted on the plate.

There’s something incredibly powerful about infusing data with the physical reality it inhabits — an idea arguably pioneered by the incredible Chris Jordan, whom we’ve featured multiple times. It breeds a kind of visceral mindfulness missing from more traditional forms of data visualization — and, hopefully, that’s what makes the leap from awareness to action.

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