Inspirational Infographics & The Reith Lectures 2010

I am a big fan of infographics and generally good presentations of data. Nathan Yau’s site, Flowing Data, is an excellent place to pick up new ideas, tutorials and to be entertained (see also Nathan’s take on the Bristol Stool Chart).

Working on a taxonomic catalogue can get very dry and for a non-taxonomist it looks incredibly boring. Traditional printed catalogues are the foundation of most biological studies (the intricacies I may go into another time) but now we are starting to make entirely digital catalogues. When our online Coreoidea catalogue is finished I hope to produce some interesting representations of the data. One of the potential ideas would be a heatmap for worldwide species distribution, looking similar to this map for “touristiness” (seen on Flowing Data):

Worlds most and least touristy places By:

"World map color-coded by level of touristiness, based on analysis of photos on Panoramio. Yellow indicates high touristiness, red medium touristiness, and blue low touristiness. Areas having no Panoramio photos at all are grey. "

I think data visualisations and infographics need to be used more often as they can provide information in an accessible way. The first topic in this year’s Reith Lectures will be “The Scientific Citizen” by Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society. Rees will discuss how scientists need to do more in helping the public understand scientific issues that affect us all, rather than relying on the government and the media. I am certain that good visualisations and infographics will play an important part in delivering good science to the public.

The first Reith Lecture will be on Radio 4, Tuesday 1st June at 0900.

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