In his talk on infographics, Tommy McCall refers to himself as an Information Designer by trade. The founder of Infographics.com, the speaker is an expert is presenting complex data sets in an accessible visual manner.
Tommy McCall begins his short talk with the history of communication, identifying the now familiar phenomenon as the process of "encoding, transmitting and decoding [...] information." Much like digital revolutions, each breakthrough in communication has the power to disrupt and redirect human culture.
With language, ideas are aptly expressed and with numbers, things are accurately quantified. The talk on infographics reveals that the process of actively visualizing data is a relatively new concept. The first bar chart was invented by William Playfair in 1786, for example, while the coxcomb was inaugurally used by Florence Nightingale in 1857 to exemplify troop mortality rates.
After this quick history lesson, Tommy McCall dives into contemporary times with examples of his own work and an explanation of how he uses code to produce interactive graphics with thousands of data points. With the notion that simplicity is good but one should sometimes indulge in "embrac[ing] complexity and show[ing] large data sets in their full glory," the TED talk on infographics highlights that the art of visualizing data is "still in its infancy."