The impression you get from McCandless is encouraging for any slightly feckless computer game nerd (he was a university dropout before becoming UK Doom Champion). The way he tells it, he basically stumbled upon the idea of expressing data in beautiful pictures when trying to make sense of various different strands of thought on evolution and creationism.
So, to keep track of all these different camps, I drew a visual map, and tried to sum up, distill, each camp into the minimum words.
In the end, I had this pretty interesting diagram. I looked at it and thought: “Hmmmm, I don’t really need to write the article now. It’s done the job of delivering the information.
Then I thought: “Maybe I could do this to loads of subjects? Instead of writing an article, this diagram could be the article?”
But while he comes across as lucky to a certain degree, he also makes it clear there was a huge amount of work involved, both in doing the design work to present data in an appealing way, but also in the journalism that underpins it (including some good old fashioned leaking).
And going back to my last post based on McCandless, about computer generated visualsiations sometimes lacking something, he reveals that he never uses any software tools other than Illustrator to produce final designs.
Other than using (presumably) Illustrator, are there any other software tools that you use to help create the final designs?
Are there any particularly intricate or advanced features of this software that you could share?
Not really sorry.
But perhaps his penultimate point is the one that should stick the most:
Data needs humans to be interesting.