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November 30, 2015 / carlispina

Learn about Data Visualization with Data + Design

Data visualization is currently a popular topic in many fields for good reason. A good visualization can help your audience to quickly understand complex information and can be more persuasive than text reporting the same information. But, for every good data visualization, there are far more poorly done visualizations. And, without pre-existing design skills, the entire process can seem overwhelming. To combat this, Infoactive, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, and a large group of volunteers have come together to create an ebook entitled Data + Design devoted to explaining data, design, and data visualization. Available as both an interactive online book and as a downloadable PDF, one of the most interesting elements of this book is its built-in room for growth. The code for the book is available on GitHub and it is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA license that makes it easy to build on and use this book in a wide range of settings.

While all of this is nice, what makes it truly great is the content of the book itself. This is a book that is aimed at being useful to a wide audience while nevertheless being accessible to beginners. At the outset, it makes suggestions about how to best use it depending on where on of this spectrum the reader falls. For beginners, the book is designed to be read from start to finish before beginning a data collection and visualization process, but, for those with more expertise, there are advanced chapters that are noted and can be skipped by beginners. There is also a glossary of important terms at the end, which can be helpful for getting your bearings on the topic. Throughout the book, there are also examples of both good and bad design choices and data projects as well as citations to other resources that those studying this topic might want to review. Taken as a whole, the book makes data collection, use, and visualization approachable and understandable. Even in its first edition, this book is a great option for those looking to start delving into the intersection of data and design. I’m sure that with future iterations it will only continue to improve!

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