I Have a Crush on David McCandless

Should I even bother to pretend to write a serious blog critique on David McCandless and his recent Financial Times data visualization? Does it even matter when I’m just going to gush about how awesome his work is? Even Chart Porn admired the Grand Central visualization.

It’s the first of its kind – McCandless and the FT have taken infographics and data visualizations to a new level by making them 3D interactive. In an interview with the FT, McCandless said that infographics are important because it allows people to get a better understanding of the data and identify any trends or patterns.

Here’s a video of how McCandless and the FT set up three presentations in Grand Central station:

I wish I had the opportunity to see the presentations in person. I’m amazed by not only the sheer idea of visualizing this kind of data as well as trying to attract the attention of New Yorkers rushing home. I am further impressed, to say the least, that McCandless and the FT thought of making the 3D presentation interactive by getting people to “step” on the graphics.

I’m going to try to stop gushing, and look at the data. Give me a minute or two.

It gets better. These are “shiny and pretty” visualizations at their best. Keeping the videos short is an important way of retaining the attention of the crowd, especially those who are on their way to catch the subway or train. The narrator’s voice is nice and clear. The data itself is simple. Normally, my eyes glaze over and I lose interest when I hear a presentation on business and economics. But McCandless doesn’t overwhelm us by distracting us with too much visualizations and complicated numbers. It’s the economy, stupid, and here are some pretty cool graphics for the ADD/smartphone addicted generation.

Neat designs like the part where we learn which country spends the most on education are fun to watch but still let the data speak for itself and tell us what’s going on. The United States spends money of education but only comes in 5th place for its education system. I think that the idea of stacking books to symbolize education was clever.

Surprisingly, I have a few questions about the Graphic World. My biggest concern is that I don’t know where the FT found its data because the presentations didn’t explicitly tell us. I wondered if the FT collected its own data and gave it to McCandless? Then I found this tiny little hyperlink at the bottom of the FT’s Graphic World website. Hmm. It doesn’t seem like these are all of the datasets the FT used. Also, why did they only present the graphics for just two days? Was it too expensive? Would it be too repetitive? Graphic World just didn’t seem to get the kind of attention it deserved.

Overall, I find it hard to do anything but to prattle on about David McCandless and Graphic World. I hope the FT launches another campaign in the city sometime soon. Static infographics are so mid-2000s, right?


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