Three ways to make sense of stuff – when there’s lots of stuff.

December 7, 2008

SpaceballPercentage of chart which resembles Pac man

Charts can be the quickest way to get a handle on an unmanageably large amount of information, but only if they are presented right. Here are three places to inspire you.

1 – The Economist daily chart


Did you know that the Economist publishes a new chart everyday on on… well, anything?

Check it out here:

2 – Hans Rosling, master manipulator of the world… of data

“Rosling began his wide-ranging career as a physician, spending many years in rural Africa tracking a rare paralytic disease (which he named konzo) and discovering its cause: hunger and badly processed cassava. He co-founded Médecins sans Frontièrs (Doctors without Borders) Sweden, wrote a textbook on global health, and as a professor at the Karolinska Institut in Stockholm initiated key international research collaborations. He’s also personally argued with many heads of state, including Fidel Castro.” From his TED biography

Hans Rosling created a tool called Gapminder (, now acquired by Google) to bring to life the world’s information so it can be used to more cleverly solve the world’s problems. The presentation above from the TED conference in 2006 is one the first airings of his amazing tool, not to mention his brilliant presentation style.

3 – Edward Tufte – guru of data

Minard - Napoleon in Russia

(from Cartographia)

Edward Tufte is a legendary statistician and guru of information design. Above is a chart he famously described as “probably the best statistical graphic ever drawn.”

Another notable piece of writing; how did Powerpoint kill the seven astronauts who were on the shuttle Columbia when it disintegrated on re-entry on the 1st February 2003? Click here for the answer.

His website is packed with thoughts and an active community trying to find better ways to present the world around us:

4. Read

I know, I know, I said three ways. Sue me.

What else inspires you?


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