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Data visualisation: beautiful alternatives to infographics

I recently discovered the work of Stefanie Posavec, a designer who focuses on data visualisation and information design, when she presented at Reasons to be Creative in London. Her data visualisation projects really caught my eye.

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Francesca Burt

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Stefanie defines data visualisation (or, as she calls it, data-vis) as

“Using data as a material to create meaningful form”

Stefanie said that infographics are becoming a little outdated, and I can see her point. Infographics are a tried and tested format, but that means they’re getting a bit too familiar. What can we do differently to engage our audience? How can we show complex and sometimes dry information in a digestible way?

Stefanie has explored this challenge and has created some interesting data visualisation projects:

Facebook Art Residency: Relationship Dance Steps
Stefanie’s task was to create artwork for the Facebook campus. She converted a month of a couple’s Facebook interaction data into dance steps and used these to create two interactive pieces on the floor. She related each move to a different type of online interaction (liking, posting, tagging etc.) By following these steps, passers-by can move through an accurate representation of a couple’s digital movements and interactions in the real world.

What I find exciting about this piece of work is digital meeting the real world. Users can physically interact with the data.

Phantom Terrains: visualizing wireless signals
This is Stefanie’s map of the wireless signals on a walk around BBC Broadcasting House. Stronger network signals are shown as wider shapes, the colours correspond to the router’s broadcast channel and the fill pattern denotes the network’s security mode.

I think the result is not only informative, it is beautiful. And I don’t think you can say that about many infographics!

You can find out more about the project at www.phantomterrains.com.

This approach could open new doors for representing data in the corporate world. I would love to produce some eye-catching data visualisation pieces for our clients.

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