Connoisseur of scaled rounded rectangles, bubbles, and triangles, David McCandless of Information is Beautiful talks data visualization in recently posted TED talk (below). He explains how information design can help us get through information glut on the Web and how simple charts can show patterns that we never would have seen otherwise. He uses his own works and collaborations as evidence.
Right around the 8-minute mark, David makes an interesting point about learning design. He explains that he started as a programmer, and then was a writer for about twenty years, but only recently started designing. He picked up the skills on his own. David argues that he’s not unique, and that actually, everyone (like you) can do stuff like this too, because we’ve all been exposed to so much information that we have a sense of what makes it understandable.
That sounds about right. Obviously, a formal design education is going to help, but a lot of the skills you learn come from practice and experience.
With the proper resources to help you with foundations such as software, code, and basic principles, you open up a whole bunch of different paths that you can explore on your own.
Watch David’s full talk below.
I agree Nathan. I don’t have a design background either (my degree is in Mechanical Engineering), but I have developed visual skills over the last 17 years of working with different forms of data.
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