Telling Visual Stories: Lessons From a Google Labs Artist

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A look back at Aaron Koblin's TED Conference speech, an introduction to data visualization and its relation to narrative

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I was thrilled to see my friend Aaron Koblin, presently of Google Creative Labs, take the TED stage earlier this year. I'm an enormous data visualization geek, I'm deeply interested in the evolution of storytelling, and I have been a longtime supporter of Aaron's work. This talk is an excellent primer to both the discipline itself and Aaron's stellar projects within it, but also an insight-packed treasure chest even for those already immersed in the world of using graphics to communicate information. Perhaps most interestingly, Aaron revises iconic media theorist Marshall McLuhan's revered catchphrase, "The medium is the message," to a thought-proviking, culture-appropriate modernization: "The interface is the message."



"An interface can be a powerful narrative device, and as we collect more and more personally and socially relevant data, we have an opportunity and maybe even an obligation to maintain the humanity and tell some amazing stories as we explore and collaborate together." - Aaron Koblin

Aaron mentions a number of projects previously featured on my site, Brain Pickings: The Sheep Market, A Bicycle Built for 2,000, and The Johnny Cash Project, if you'd like to take a closer look.

For more on the kind of magic Aaron is making, you won't go wrong with Data Flow 2: Visualizing Information in Graphic Design—easily the most comprehensive compendium on data visualization candy around.


This post also appears on Brain Pickings.
Image: YouTube

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Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

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