A simple introduction to preparing and visualizing information.

Data are all around us and always have been. Everything throughout history has always had the potential to be quantified: theoretically, one could count every human who has ever lived, every heartbeat that has ever beaten, every step that was ever taken, every star that has ever shone, every word that has ever been uttered or written. Each of these collective things can be represented by a number. But only recently have we had the technology to efficiently surface these hidden numbers, leading to greater insight into our human condition.

But what does this mean, exactly? What are the cultural effects of having easy access to data? It means, for one thing, that we all need to be more data literate. It also means we have to be more design literate. As the old adage goes, statistics lie. Well, data visualizations lie, too. How can we learn how to first, effectively read data visualizations; and second, author them in such a way that is ethical and clearly communicates the data’s inherent story?


The book’s chapters follow pretty closely the actual set of steps that need to be accomplished before data can be visualized, from the design of the survey to the collection of the data to ultimately its visualization. Really pretty simple. So if you’re fairly new to the game, it is probably going to make sense for you to start at the beginning and read the whole way through the book. Likewise, if you’re familiar with some of the content, but not everything, there’s no harm in just skipping to the chapters that are relevant to your case: you aren’t going to be scrambling to catch up if you skip around!


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