This is the first in what will be a monthly series, a selection of articles relating to data visualisation that have stood out for me. My criteria will be ever-changing, but hopefully the handful of examples I choose will be varied and interesting for all manner of reasons. Some of them will just be pretty, others intriguing to explore and others beautiful in their simplicity.

Using data for construction

Let’s start with a project which sets out to use data as the building blocks for sculptures. Scott Kildall (an American conceptualist artist) creates Data Crystals, which use large, open-source data-sets to map and size crystal pieces which are then joined together into beautiful forms. This month he published pictures of two more, with promise of a later third. The two pictured show all the cities and airports of the world.

Innovative use of Microsoft Excel

Staying with pretty things, and acknowledging my love relationship with Excel, I stumbled upon some unique uses of Excel basic charts to create things you might never have believed possible from scatter and line plots. They all come with downloadable examples, to allow us to freely use these options and here is a description of some of the features and challenges involved with 14 of them.

Anything you could ever want to know about groceries

An astonishing data collection begets visualisation project based on 10 weeks of grocery shopping is here. The author recorded everything about his shopping for ten weeks and then turned it into a series of infographics (scroll down), including information about provenance, health, price, quantity, individual ingredients ….

going shopping

If nothing else, then this is fascinating from the sheer scale of effort involved. Also, though, the infographic is clear and well illustrated.

Greater insight from a smaller data-set

This Economist chart shows the importance of splitting a data-set and considering only a subset of customers / people / objects for further analysis. In this case, the average alcohol consumption is shown over entire country populations and over just the subset who drink any alcohol at all. Interestingly, those countries with the highest alcohol consumption per person who drinks at all are also those with relatively low consumption per person. I’m not keen on the colour choices, but that’s personal preference and the chart itself is simple and conveys its message.

What is the best way to blog if you want a success?

Finally, mindful of our current blogging targets, this infographic takes from an analysis of 100 top blog posts and shows some averages. Without variances, I’m not sure how useful this can be to us (while the average number of images in a successful blog is 3.2, 16% contained no images at all, which isn’t referenced in the infographic) , but there is also a longer article giving more information about the detail of the analysis and I think the infographic does well as a teaser to draw the reader in.

Back next month …. Cathy