David McCandless draws beautiful conclusions from complex datasets — thus revealing unexpected insights into our world.

Why you should listen

David McCandless makes infographics -- simple, elegant ways to see information that might be too complex or too big, small, abstract or scattered to otherwise be grasped. In his new book, Information Is Beautiful (in the US, it's being called The Visual Miscellaneum), McCandless and his cadre of info designers take a spin through the world of visualized data, from hard stats on politics and climate to daffy but no less important trends in pop music.

McCandless' genius is not so much in finding jazzy new ways to show data -- the actual graphics aren't the real innovation here -- as in finding fresh ways to combine datasets to let them ping and prod each other. Reporting the number of drug deaths in the UK every year is interesting; but mapping that data onto the number of drug deaths reported by the UK press, broken down by drug, is utterly fascinating (more deaths by marijuana were reported than in fact occurred, by a factor of 484%). McCandless contributes a monthly big-think graphic to the Guardian's Data Blog, and makes viral graphics for his blog Information Is Beautiful.

What others say

“It's not just the sheer variety of topics covered -- though knowing the relative effect of rising sea levels or the prime vintage years for red and white wines by country will come in handy someday soon, I'm certain -- but the way in which, for many of these charts, there's considerably more than meets the eye.” — Chris Bilton, Eye Weekly review of The Visual Miscellaneum

David McCandless’ TED talk

David McCandless on the TED Blog

News

In short: An upworthy birthday, death in the 20th century

March 29, 2013

Here, some staff picks of smart, funny, bizarre and cool stuff on the interwebs this week: Happy Birthday, Upworthy! Here are 11 lessons our friends at Upworthy learned in their first year on the Internet. [Upworthy] Jay Horwitz, media relations director for the Mets, is the Barry Bonds of butt dialing. He frequently booty calls […]

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Education

Visualizing the possibility of intelligent life in the Milky Way

September 5, 2012

How many detectable alien civilizations are out there in our galaxy? In 1961, astronomer Frank Drake developed an equation to estimate the number. Now data journalist David McCandless, who gave the talk “The beauty of data visualization” at TEDGlobal 2010, has created an information graphic for the BBC calculating the Drake Equation — with a […]

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Quotes from David McCandless

By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.
David McCandless
TEDGlobal 2010 • 2M views Aug 2010
Fascinating, Informative
Data is the new soil, because for me, it feels like a fertile, creative medium. Over the years, online, we’ve laid down a huge amount of information and data, and we irrigate it with networks and connectivity, and it’s been worked and tilled by unpaid workers and governments.
David McCandless
TEDGlobal 2010 • 2M views Aug 2010
Fascinating, Informative