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David McCandless: The Beauty of Data Visualization

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David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut -- and it may just change the way we see the world.

David McCandless makes infographics -- simple, elegant ways to see information that might be too complex or too big, small, abstract or scattered to otherwise be grasped. In his new book, Information Is Beautiful (in the US, it's being called The Visual Miscellaneum), McCandless and his cadre of info designers take a spin through the world of visualized data, from hard stats on politics and climate to daffy but no less important trends in pop music.

McCandless' genius is not so much in finding jazzy new ways to show data -- the actual graphics aren't the real innovation here -- as in finding fresh ways to combine datasets to let them ping and prod each other. Reporting the number of drug deaths in the UK every year is interesting; but mapping that data onto the number of drug deaths reported by the UK press, broken down by drug, is utterly fascinating (more deaths by marijuana were reported than in fact occurred, by a factor of 484%). McCandless contributes a monthly big-think graphic to the Guardian's Data Blog, and makes viral graphics for his blog Information Is Beautiful.