TED设计:汤米·麦考尔:好图表的简单原则

发表时间:2018-10-12内容来源:VOA英语学习网

TED设计:Tommy McCall: The simple genius of a good graphic

I love infographics.As an information designer,I've worked with all sorts of dataover the past 25 years.I have a few insights to share,but first: a little history.

Communication is the encoding,transmission and decoding of information.Breakthroughs in communication markturning points in human culture.Oracy, literacy and numeracywere great developments in communication.They allow us to encode ideas into wordsand quantities into numbers.Without communication, we'd stillbe stuck in the Stone Ages.

Although humans have been aroundfor a quarter million years,it was only 8,000 years agothat proto-writings began to surface.Nearly 3,000 years later, the firstproper writing systems took shape.

Maps have been around for millenniaand diagrams for hundreds of years,but representing quantitiesthrough graphicsis a relatively new development.It wasn't until 1786 that William Playfairinvented the first bar chart,giving birth to visual displayof quantitative information.Fifteen years later, he introducedthe first pie and area charts.His inventions are still the mostcommonly used chart forms today.Florence Nightingale inventedthe coxcomb in 1857for a presentation to Queen Victoriaon troop mortality.Highlighted in blue,she showed how most troops' deathscould have been prevented.Shortly after, Charles Minard chartedNapoleon's march on Moscow,illustrating how an army of 422,000dwindled to just 10,000as battles, geography and freezingtemperatures took their toll.He combined a Sankey diagramwith cartographyand a line chart for temperature.

I get excited when I getlots of data to play with,especially when it yieldsan interesting chart form.Here, Nightingale's coxcombwas the inspirationto organize data on thousandsof federal energy subsidies,scrutinizing the lack of investmentin renewables over fossil fuels.This Sankey diagram illustratesthe flow of energy through the US economy,emphasizing how nearly halfof the energy used is lost as waste heat.

I love it when data can be sculptedinto beautiful shapes.Here, the personal and professionalconnections of the women of Silicon Valleycan be woven into arcs,same as the collaboration of inventorsbirthing patents across the globecan be mapped.

I've even made charts for me.I'm a numbers person,so I rarely win at Scrabble.I made this diagram to rememberall the two- and three-letter wordsin the official Scrabble dictionary.

(Laughter)

Knowing these 1,168 wordscertainly is a game changer.

(Laughter)

Sometimes I produce codeto quickly generate graphicsfrom thousands of data points.Coding also enables meto produce interactive graphics.Now we can navigate informationon our own terms.

Exotic chart forms certainly look cool,but something as simpleas a little dot may be all you needto solve a particular thinking task.In 2006, the "New York Times"redesigned their "Markets" section,cutting it down from eight pagesof stock listingsto just one and a half pagesof essential market data.We listed performance metricsfor the most common stocks,but I wanted to help investorssee how the stocks are doing.So I added a simple little dotto show the current pricerelative to its one-year range.At a glance, value investors can pick outstocks trading near their lowsby looking for dots to the left.Momentum investors can find stockson an upward trajectoryvia dots to the right.Shortly after, the "Wall Street Journal"copied the design.

Simplicity is often the goalfor most graphics,but sometimes we needto embrace complexityand show large data setsin their full glory.Alec Gallup, the former chairmanof the Gallup Organization,once handed me a very thick book.It was his family's legacy:hundreds of pages covering six decadesof presidential approval data.I told him the entire bookcould be graphed on a single page."Impossible," he said.And here it is:25,000 data points on a single page.At a glance, one sees that most presidentsstart with a high approval rating,but few keep it.Events like wars initially boost approval;scandals trigger declines.These major events were annotatedin the graphic but not in the book.The point is, graphics can transmit datawith incredible efficiency.

Graphicacy —the ability to read and write graphics —is still in its infancy.New chart forms will emergeand specialized dialects will evolve.Graphics that help us think fasteror see a book's worthof information on a single pageare the key to unlocking new discoveries.Our visual cortex was builtto decode complex informationand is a master at pattern recognition.Graphicacy enables usto harness our built-in GPUto process mountains of dataand find the veins of gold hiding within.

Thank you.

(Applause and cheers)

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