Expert Galleries: Nathan Yau

Expert Galleries: Nathan Yau

Nathan Yau is the creator behind FlowingData and the author of Data Points, about the process of understanding, exploring, and visualizing data, and Visualize This, about tools and programming techniques for data visualization. A statistician and statistics Ph.D. from UCLA, Nathan did our first-ever Q&A. Now he is lending his expertise in curating our latest Expert Gallery that looks for something in the data. 

Check out the gallery and read our interview with him below. 

How and why did you choose the focus of the gallery?

I’m a statistician, so visualization has always been a means to an end for me. That is, I try to understand a dataset better and visualization happens to be one of the ways I can do that. More recently, visualization has grown into mostly a presentation tool on the web, where many people add data almost as just an afterthought. I wish people would spend more time with the actual data though.

What is your favorite piece in the gallery and why?

The Toronto Visible Minorities map by Jeff Clark. It’s definitely inspired by previous works, but I don’t think that makes it less interesting. When we see maps about race, it’s often contained in blocks, census tracts, counties, etc. This map, and the dots maps before it, show a blend, which in my experience is more accurate.

What is one insight you’d like viewers to take away from the gallery?

With visualization, design is important, but it is far more important when you couple it with analysis. The more you know about your data, the more that you can show others. That’s what I was looking for in this gallery. 

What is one insight you discovered in making the gallery?

There are many people and groups who are interested in visualization in data. My hope is that interest from makers and consumers continues to grow and the work continues to improve. Strive to improve — whether it be in design, analysis, data management, etc. — with every project.  

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