Same data, different stories. Lives lost in the last Iraq war. The image on the left shows relative number of deaths by group, while the right shows deaths in chronological order. Dark Grey - Coalition forces, Light Grey - Iraqi forces, Orange - Civilians, Black - Iraqi Insurgents
A surprisingly delightful highlight was a chronicle of correspondence between two friends in London and New York. They each took turns to record their own form of data; whether it was what mood they were in that week, to how many 'thank yous' they received that day. The beauty of all this work was that it was all hand-drawn. In our work we strive to present everything with such exacting professionalism, so it was refreshing to see that seemingly trivial data can be presented in an unpolished way and be varied, engaging and charming. Their work can be found at dear-data.com
One adventurous couple even recorded their entire sexual activity over a year. Displayed within a giant timeline, different coloured bars represented a particular sexual practice, whether together, alone or with a 3rd party. The general conclusion we drew from this is that South Americans have a very different sex life to us Brits!
Across the board, the exhibition reminded us that data can be presented in more ways than we can imagine and inspired us all to continue to break the usual formulae for data-vis and think beyond the pie chart. We felt that one thing was missing however...
As a team that spends a lot of time interpreting and visualising data, we found that there were very few solid conclusions to be had from the data on display. Some presented abstract shapes based on scientific data – but with little or no reference to what that data was, where it was from or whether the shapes formed meaningful patterns or trends. Others were more specific but still left out any analysis, which seemed a shame given the effort put into collecting the data in the first place.
Drawing conclusions from complex data is a particular strength across OPEN Health – a family of companies who generate, analyse, interpret, visualise and share data. We should continue to use our combined skills to make our data beautiful and meaningful at the same time.