Data Flow: Information Explained in a New Visual Language


Berlin-based Gestalten Verlag have just released a new book that takes a deeper look into data visualisation in graphic design.

Data Flow is a 256 page compendium of various outstanding projects in the field of information visualisation. The book’s intro offers some nice thought starters on the subject:

“We live in a world where every idea has been thought of before, and it becomes too easy to use the Microsoft template for presenting our data. The visual form we adopt becomes driven by the tool or the topic we are presenting, rather than the usefulness of the data or the insight it gives us.” ‘This is business data, so it must be a bar chart’ may be an easy way to approach the subject of presenting information, but it is a far less satisfying and provocative route for the designer of human thinking and intent.”

We’re all probably familiar with the the experience of having to sift and sit through painfully dull data visualisations both in everyday and business life. Data Flow explores how and where creators are pushing boundaries in this field and considering better ways to communicate complex relations:

“If we can show data as blocks, spheres, rivers, nets or landscapes, we open up a new and rich visual language through which the external world is brought into our internal world of understanding. In other words, we communicate.”

The book pulls out examples ranging from the fashion industry, where Mahir M. Yavuz and Ebru Kurbak’s News Knitter turns digital raw data into fashion garments; to social research, like Leslie Kwok’s social constellation graphs that remind us a bit of astrological maps. The highlighted projects are organized by category -i.e., ‘Datasphere’, ‘Datanets’, ‘Datascape’ and ‘Datalogy’ – based on the form of mapping used. Recommended!

[Image Source: Data Flow: Visualising Information in Graphic Design Copyright Gestalten 2008]

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