Writing

Paola Antonelli on Charlie Rose

This is from May, and the Design and the Elastic Mind show has now finished, but Paola Antonelli’s interview with Charlie Rose is well worth watching.

Paola’s incredibly sharp. Don’t turn it off in the first few minutes, however; I found that it wasn’t until about five or even ten minutes into the show that she began to sound like herself. I guess it takes a while to get past the requisite television pleasantries and the basic design-isms.

The full transcript doesn’t seem to be available freely, however some excerpts:

And I believe that design is one of the highest forms of human creative expression.

I would never dare say that! But I’ll secretly root for her making her case.

And also, I believe that designers, when they’re good, take revolutions in science and in technology, and they transform them into objects that people like us can use.

Doesn’t that make you want to be a designer when you grow up?

Regarding the name of the show, and the notion of elasticity:

…it was about showing how we need to adapt to different conditions every single day. Just work across different time zones, go fast and slow, use different means of communication, look at things at different scales. You know, some of us are perfectly elastic. And instead, some others get a little bit of stretch marks. And some others just cannot deal with it.

And designers help us cope with all these changes.

Her ability to speak plainly and clearly reinforces her point about designers and their role in society. (And if you don’t agree, consider what sort of garbage she could have said, or rather that most would have said, speaking about such a trendy oh-so-futuristic show.)

In the interest of full disclosure, she does mention my work (very briefly), but that’s not until about halfway through, so it shouldn’t interfere with your enjoyment of the rest of the interview.

Thursday, June 12, 2008 | iloveme, speaky  
Book

Visualizing Data Book CoverVisualizing Data is my book about computational information design. It covers the path from raw data to how we understand it, detailing how to begin with a set of numbers and produce images or software that lets you view and interact with information. Unlike nearly all books in this field, it is a hands-on guide intended for people who want to learn how to actually build a data visualization.

The text was published by O’Reilly in December 2007 and can be found at Amazon and elsewhere. Amazon also has an edition for the Kindle, for people who aren’t into the dead tree thing. (Proceeds from Amazon links found on this page are used to pay my web hosting bill.)

Examples for the book can be found here.

The book covers ideas found in my Ph.D. dissertation, which is basis for Chapter 1. The next chapter is an extremely brief introduction to Processing, which is used for the examples. Next is (chapter 3) is a simple mapping project to place data points on a map of the United States. Of course, the idea is not that lots of people want to visualize data for each of 50 states. Instead, it’s a jumping off point for learning how to lay out data spatially.

The chapters that follow cover six more projects, such as salary vs. performance (Chapter 5), zipdecode (Chapter 6), followed by more advanced topics dealing with trees, treemaps, hierarchies, and recursion (Chapter 7), plus graphs and networks (Chapter 8).

This site is used for follow-up code and writing about related topics.

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