A picture paints a thousand numbers

February 7, 2010

There are some lucky minds among us, who can scan a spreadsheet and immediately pick out a meaningful pattern from the data dump. Most of us aren’t so lucky. And so, we’ve developed some techniques, to hep us visualise what those numbers might be saying – the pie chart and the bar chart are two of our closest friends in the world of media.

The pie chart and the bar chart might have packed a punch in their time – when research was a new and heady invention for our industry. Those were the days before we had monthly brand trackers, quarterly review phone books and surveys so long, that no one ever gets through a genuine analysis of all the results, before it’s out of date.

Media, arguably more that most other marketing disciplines, is drowning in information saturation. We are data rich but insight poor.

However, we are now on the precipice of Data 2.0, where increasingly the days of our good old friends, the pie chart and the bar chart, may soon be numbered. There are people out there, on our own shores, championing the “art of visualisation”. I just became acquainted with Ed Fidgeon-Kavanagh this week (via Piaras Kelly).

On our part in OMD, we are fighting the good fight, winning some battles, losing others but always trying to put an emphasis on useful meaning over a deck of charts, storytelling over powerpoint death, and insight over information.



3 Responses to “A picture paints a thousand numbers”

  1. edfk said

    Hey, many thanks for the mention Neasa,

    There are certainly some great resources our there when it comes to data visualisation, I think my top 2 faves are probably (http://flowingdata.com/) and (http://flowingdata.com/)

    I wouldnt say that my personal preferences go as far as some of the work you would see on these sites, but I think it’s all about clarity, minimalism and distillation of the message. While his site is a bit crappy (http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/) is another important voice in the data visualisation world – he promotes a simple approach which aims to get rid of the “ink”/noise on a chart which distracts from it’s message.

    I recommend that anyone working with data on a regular basis subscribe to the 2 blogs I mentioned and maybe forks out for an Edward Tufte book.

  2. […] whatsoever.  See my informative picto-graph (am learning from your previous post Neasa https://theinfluentials.wordpress.com/2010/02/07/a-picture-paints-a-thousand-numbers/): informative, visually exciting and Easter […]

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