Article on Nathan Yau, FlowingData and data visualization out now in Significance

I recently wrote an article for Significance magazine in the series “A life in statistics” which came out last week. You can read it free here. I spoke to Nathan Yau of about his experiences and his predictions of the future of infoviz. Then I noticed that Andrew Gelman and Anthony Unwin at Columbia University had written on the topic of graphs vs infoviz for the March 2013 issue of the Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics, with responses from some prominent viz people, and a rejoinder (in fact, as I write, the issue of the JCGS is not yet out, but you can read all the papers here, courtesy of Robert Kosara). 

Whatever you do with numbers, if you are reading this far then you really need to go and look at the JCGS papers as they come from the real experts in the topic and crystallise a lot of debates that we are all having in half-baked ways around our water coolers. If you only have a 10 minute coffee break to spare, sit back and at least read the Significance article, not because I’m such a great writer but because it tries to condense the ideas into 4 pages for a lay audience, and because we all need to be on top of the game in making good visualizations rather than assuming it is someone else’s job. One of my own catchphrases: “You have to communicate as well as calculate”.

If there’s one thing I do feel smug about, it’s quoting Pierre Boulez for perhaps the first time in any stats periodical.

Boulez à la Yau

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