Book Review: Dear Data

Book Review: Dear Data

I had been anxiously awaiting the release of Dear Data  from the moment I heard of it’s two artists and their weekly data visualization project. In all honesty, this project was the inspiration for our own Whiteboard Data Visualization venture.

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Dear Data is as beautiful as it is thought provoking, and makes for a superb addition to any data enthusiast’s collection. The publication itself, serves as a chronicle for the visualizations sent between the two authors over one year’s time. Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi illustrated weekly data onto postcards and send them to each other [from New York to London and back again].

The data varies depending on the topics they chose to illustrate; from organization,  to time, to thanks and more.

Dan’s Favorite Visualization

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This visualization is simple yet informative and also easy for data collection. The standardize size of each bar allows for easy comparison.
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Stefanie mentions how data collection became more difficult as the night went on. I can appreciate this as often with our lifestyle data collections (specifically those involving the kids) we struggle to maintain a consistent collection or things trail off as the collection period ends. Turns out, no one’s perfect. Boom.

It wasn’t long before Lynsey stole the book from me. I think these visualizations spoke to each of us quite differently. For me, it’s all about the data and the really gritty, sometimes messy data collection. It’s transforming that chaos into something totally complete and finite that keeps me coming back for more. As a graphic designer, Lynsey was drawn in by the use of color and the hand lettering. But it wasn’t long before she was noticing the nuances of their detailed data collection and the insightful observations they made based on it.

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Lynsey’s Favorite Visualization

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I’m constantly adapting my productivity strategy, so this visualization called to me. Not to mention that you could frame this and it would stand as a beautiful piece with a completely secret story behind it.

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Whenever Dan and I work on a visualization, I want to take things further aesthetically but struggle with how to do that without damaging the data. I love how Giorgia notes that the elements she used for this are placed and rotated at random for aesthetics. I also enjoy how the dimensions of certain elements are based on the approximate duration of those represented tasks. See, it doesn’t have to be EXACT all the time. This visualization gave me the permission I was looking for to develop our visualizations in a more artistic way.

 

It’s safe to say we thoroughly enjoyed this book. We don’t have a coffee table, but it may be time to invest in one just to give this title its proper display spot. In the meantime, we’ll keep thumbing through it when in need of inspiration. Dear Data appeals to designers and data scientists alike. It’s a beautifully rendered marriage of artistic and nerdtastic. Maybe that’s why we like it so much…

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