History lesson on data visualization

Posted to Infographics  |  Tags:  |  Nathan Yau

Clive Thompson for Smithsonian Magazine gives a quick history lesson on infographics.

[D]ata visualization was rare because data was rare. That began to change rapidly in the early 19th century, because countries began to collect—and publish—reams of information about their weather, economic activity and population. “For the first time, you could deal with important social issues with hard facts, if you could find a way to analyze it,” says Michael Friendly, a professor of psychology at York University who studies the history of data visualization. “The age of data really began.”

Thompson uses “infographic” but really means “data visualization” most of the time, but still a good overview.

And while we’re on the topic of old visualization stuff, you should also check out Scott Klein’s newsletter, Above Chart. The history provides fine context for where visualization is at now.


Think Like a Statistician – Without the Math

I call myself a statistician, because, well, I’m a statistics graduate student. However, the most important things I’ve learned are less formal, but have proven extremely useful when working/playing with data.

Causes of Death

There are many ways to die. Cancer. Infection. Mental. External. This is how different groups of people died over the past 10 years, visualized by age.

Shifting Incomes for American Jobs

For various occupations, the difference between the person who makes the most and the one who makes the least can be significant.

Years You Have Left to Live, Probably

The individual data points of life are much less predictable than the average. Here’s a simulation that shows you how much time is left on the clock.