Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Datasketching culture

Our new Google News Lab visualization project is out. This time, it's actually two projects in one: Beautiful In English, by Nadieh Bremer, and Adventure is Out There!, by Shirley Wu. As usual, I provided some art direction.

You may be familiar with Nadieh's and Shirley's Datasketch.es. Each month they pick a topic (nature, music, etc.) and each of them creates an experimental and quirky artistic visualization separately. When I learned about it, I thought that it was a marvelous idea, so I asked them whether they'd be interested in doing something with Google search data. They accepted and they chose Culture as their theme.

Nadieh's visualization shows the most common words translated into English from other languages, and Shirley's focuses on popular travel destinations. You can read all details about both visualizations in the writeup they've put together. It includes drafts and early prototypes. Don't miss it.

If you wish to learn more about our ongoing series of visualizations —see them all so far here; more coming soon,— Fast Company's Co.Design has just published a nice article about it. It describes what we're trying to do quite well: As an art director, I don't really want to direct very strictly. Instead, I prefer to give the designers we work with some freedom. We are fond of graphics that are compelling, informative, and fun, but we also want designers to let their imaginations fly a bit, even if the end result is wackier than usual. We don't mind. Some projects will succeed at balancing creativity with understandability, others maybe not so much, but that's exactly the point. Some novel ideas will be discarded, but others may stick, and eventually expand our shared graphics vocabulary.

(Google's Simon Rogers —the brains behind this initiative— has also shared some thoughts about making visualization friendlier.)

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