Example of many pieces of information organized coherently: a Sankey diagram
This is the second of four reflections by Benjamin Carr on principles which allow simulations and visualizations to help us understand complex systems.
Visualization can enable the user to make sense of a lot of data in a short period of time. Ideally, a well-designed structure is displayed which an individual can use to organize incoming information. Rather than having to take in many separate pieces of information and organize them individually, the information is already arranged coherently. This facilitates the task of remembering and comprehension.
This is the first of four reflections by Benjamin Carr on principals which allow simulations and visualizations to help us understand complex systems.
Simulations and visualizations are, for a variety of reasons, effective at engaging the user. I find the colors, shapes, and patterns pull my attention in a way that text cannot. Another property which makes these tools engaging is their interactive capacities, as can be seen with this stock and flow diagram. In such cases, the user has the ability to change the values of important variables. The user is positioned as an active component in the production of whatever result the tool generates.
We’d love it if you would join us for a live webinar about the simulation project. We’ll be demoing some of our prototypes, taking questions, and talking about where the project is heading next.
WHO: Mark Tovey and Kirsten Robinson
WHAT: Inspiring Action for Social Impact Series
WHEN: Tuesday, August 27th, 2013, from 12PM–1PM EST
Pre-register here. Details below.
Surprise can change mindsets or soften viewpoints.
In his TED Talk on The beauty of data visualization, David McCandless offers illustrations of how data visualizations can alter perspectives by placing information in context. His examples startle by meaningfully juxtaposing data or by showing relative figures where absolute figures are usually employed.
David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization
Many people have seen Hans Rosling’s original TED talk about GapMinder, Stats that reshape your worldview (below). It is, after all, one of the most popular talks on TED of all time. Hans Rosling’s TED Talks have very effectively introduced the idea of visualization to a popular audience. One of the things that we will be exploring in this blog is the difference between visualization and simulation, and how these technologies can be used to explore social innovation.
Rosling also hosted a one-hour documentary, The Joy of Stats. This was broadcast by the BBC in 2010, and is viewable online in full.