Has anyone noticed that the Internet is becoming increasingly full of infographics these days? I usually have at least one new a day in my inbox, showing something like A Year In Twitter.
At Brass, we love infographics and its bigger brother/sister, data visualisation. Our Connect team manage lots of Social Media, Online and Offline PR, Online Media, SEO and PPC activity. We also handle web analytics and online consumer insight. As you can imagine, we generate lots of lots of data! We’re pretty nifty with a spreadsheet, but sometimes even our spreadsheet formatting skills can’t turn a mass of data into a simple to understand story. This is where we use data visualisation. It’s a great way to take a lot of data and turn it into, well….a picture! Allowing your brain to process the information much more quickly.
Data visualisation can be fairly functional, but it can also be very beautiful.
Paul Butler, an intern in Facebook’s Data Infrastructure Engineering Team was interested in seeing how geography and political borders affected where people lived relative to their friends. He wanted a visualisation that would show which cities had a lot of friendships between them. His data visualisation turned into a surprisingly detailed map of the world. Not only were continents visible, certain international borders were apparent as well.
Paul said “What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn’t represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships. Each line might represent a friendship made while travelling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by the various forces of life.”
The result was this beautiful image:
If you would like to learn a little more about data visualisation, I’d recommend checking out the work of David McCandless. He has a fantastic TED talk all about this subject, which I really recommend taking 20 mins to watch.
The full story of Paul’s Facebook data visualisation can be found here.