Nicholas Felton has a very data centric way of evaluating his year. CEO of Daytum, he keeps track of every location, every drink, every person for 254 of 365 days in 2008. Brilliantly, he assembles the data in an annual report with some of the most beautiful data visualization techniques I’ve seen.
Data visualization, including the work done by Stamen, is a new kind of social science – one that is driven by the vast amounts of data people and computers generate. Synthesizing this data, telling a story or painting a portrait of a person, like the one above, at first blush would be difficult to be considered art, but in many ways, it is. It is pointillism where bits are Seurat’s brush strokes. Some of post-post-modern art will undoubtedly use data as raw material.
Data presentation is increasingly important and sought after in many disciplines. Communicating data effectively to executives today is dramatically undervalued in corporate operations, but those talented are often able to make much more compelling business cases. Data has become more prevalent in advertisements. The new Google Chrome ads are just one example. And perhaps art, like the beautiful document above, will fall victim to the allure of data.