David McCandless

"I’m David McCandless, a London-based author, writer and designer. I’ve written for The Guardian, Wired and others. I’m into anything strange and interesting.

These days I’m an independent data journalist and information designer. A passion of mine is visualizing information – facts, data, ideas, subjects, issues, statistics, questions – all with the minimum of words.

I’m interested in how designed information can help us understand the world, cut through BS and reveal the hidden connections, patterns and stories underneath. Or, failing that, it can just look cool!

My pet-hate is pie charts. Love pie. Hate pie-charts."

McCandless states in the video below, as mentioned in his short biography from the Information is beautiful website above, that he believes his background as a journalist and writer for almost 20 years has inspired and aided his information design work. For many years he was tasked with collecting data and information for the basis of articles, or researching subjects to inform himself of facts, figures and beliefs before producing critical work as a writer. McCandless describes reading and sourcing information as 'wading' through data. That in some ways it can become overwhelming and difficult to differentiate between what is useful and what is irrelevant, but most importantly, what it all means. It is for this reason that he feels in some ways, pre-educated on how data needs to be presented for it to be readable and meaningful.

I am a firm believer that information is useless unless it has something to be compared to. Much like an analogy I have heard about money - "It's only worth what you can buy with it" meaning that a ten pound note or a fifty pound note, are essential equal as objects, it is only the difference in what each of them can be exchanged for that is important. This is a similar concept that I believe McCandless applies to information. That facts figures, data and knowledge is in some sense useless unless it can be compared to other data.

I hold this belief after looking through McCandless' "Information is Beautiful" myself. As with the example to the right, illustrating the billions of dollars that have been spent of different causes in a year, each box would have little importance until compared to the size, and therefore expense, of another box. The whole concept is reinforced hugely as I turned over the page to see a box, bigger than all of the others combined, showing just what a huge expense the Financal crisis was worldwide. I Find this comparison of data intensely effective. 

McCandless also uses specific design choices to best communicate information. Our brains subconsciously take in a huge amount of visual data from our eyes, the large majority of which is useless and ignored, a form of visual background noise. On the other hand, our thought processes are carried out in words and number, like an internal dialogue in our heads that is our mind. Combining visual stimuli with word connection patterns is what causes McCandless work to be so effective. Whilst he chooses specific colours to relate to the subject data he also excludes decorative and irrelivant colours, in turn, muting the background subconcious visual stimuli that usually overloads our brain. Parallel to this, using simple sentances and bolding of key words and figures, with all text to a minimum as a general rule McCandless enables our brain to recieve the information almost subconciously. He describes it as "pouring" information into our brains. 

I am a huge fan of McCandless work as i'm sure is apparent. The observations that I have made of his work, combinded with my own opinions of usefull and effective inforgraphics and his own ideas and process carried out to produce meaningful and effective work will all be kept at the forfront of my mind when producing an outcome. The work should be sophisticated and clever. Colour is so important. As I mentioned in my researcgh of Castelao's work, colouor can attract an audience and as stated by McCandless, it can also be the method to pour the information in to these attracted audience's minds.

 

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/about/

© Ethan William Frisby, all rights reserved