According to Hans Rosling statistics is about making data sing.
In my case he was preaching to the converted. But if you want an entertaining and good argument about why statistics are useful then watch The Joy of Stats. (In the week following its broadcast I overheard three separate groups of people in London discussing it, all positively, which has to be a good recommendation).
I agree with him it’s a two phase job. First you have to analyse the numbers to unearth the stories. The next step is to use colour, shape and motion to tell them. This sounds obvious but is too often rolled into one leading to complex visualisations that fail to reveal anything of interest.
His comment that “it’s about making the audience not realise they’re interacting with data” chimes perfectly with two excellent pieces of work published recently – Schooloscope and the USA’s local census data.
This film sums up many of the reasons why I enjoy doing what I do making it a fitting post to finish the year with. So here’s to making more data sing in 2011! HAPPY NEW YEAR