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Jenny Rankin's Data Talk is on the Visualization of Information

By: Alyson Wyers - Jan 30, 2016
In her data talk, Jenny Rankin explains why data should be treated like over-the-counter medication. The speaker uses historical examples to demonstrate the importance of effectively communicating data. This includes a cholera outbreak in London and the role of physician John Snow, Florence Nightingale and soldier mortality due to preventable disease and the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle tragedy. The data talk states that if intelligent people can't understand data, then something is wrong with the presentation of that information.

Over-the-counter medicine has key components in place so you know what to look for and it works as intended, such as its content, label, package and display. The same thing is needed with data visualization, especially when the stakes are high. Therefore, design plays an important role. The speaker asserts "when we are fluent in visualizing our ideas, we can communicate them across global boundaries, across spoken language barriers, and across other obstacles thrown in our paths."