Thursday, October 9, 2008

Killer Graphics

For years now, I have been preaching the Tufte gospel and my project preparation and advising has become more and more centered around what I call killer graphics.  
Every year, I discover new and exciting examples of graphical excellence in multivariate, high data-density, chartjunk-free visuals, such as the ones at Design Watch or Pictures of Numbers.  I also keep my eyes open for extraordinary graphics like the recent NYT Olympic Medals dynamic graphic, reminiscent of Gapminder, or the periodic Infoporn on Wired.  I am counting on this year's students to produce some truly outstanding visuals.  I know for a fact that past students have drunk the Kool-Aid and would be comfortable talking about sparklines with the likes of Steve Guerin who has somehow managed to slip them into our energence project... We are already seeing the first Venice gapminders...  
To achieve our goals, we will make use of tools such as those at Juice Analytics or the previously showcased google chart APIs.  In addition to producing "silent presentations" that rely on self-explanatory graphics, somewhat akin to Google's cartoon of the Chrome release (which subliminally mentions Tufte on page 20), our teams are working hard at producing killer slides for their powerpoint presentations and, in less than two weeks, they are going to showcase their best visuals at a graphics charrette at the Settemari rowing club in Venice.  In the spirit of Fra' William of Ockham we shall excise 1,000 thousand words for each killer graphic we produce... (hence the name?)