The 5 Most Influential Data Visualizations of All Time


Overview | What you'll learn: 

“The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.”
- John Tukey, 1977

Data visualization allows us all to see and understand our data more deeply. That understanding breeds good decisions. Without data visualization and data analysis, we are all more prone to misunderstandings and missed opportunities. This visual presentation will show show you 5 powerful, beautiful visualizations that changes how people thought about the world.

We've also pulled out the first several pages of the whitepaper for you to read. Download the PDF on the right to read the rest.


About these visualizations

Data visualization allows us all to see and understand our data more deeply. That understanding breeds good decisions. Without data visualization and data analysis, we are all more prone to misunderstandings and missed opportunities. The following slides will show you 5 powerful, beautiful visualizations that changed how people thought about the world.

5. London Cholera Map – John Snow

1854. London. Cholera strikes. In just 10 days, over 500 people have been killed in one neighborhood. The mysterious cluster of deaths is especially terrifying because no one understands the source. No one besides John Snow, an epidemiologist who realized the water supply was spreading the disease.

He plotted every death on a map with ingenious mapped bar charts (see left) and was able to show that the closer to the Broad Street water pump he plotted, the greater the number of deaths. The information helped convince the public a true sewage system was needed and spurred the city to action.

4. Gapminder – Rosling

The Swedish scientist Hans Rosling had been working with developmental data for over 30 years – but it took a great visualization and a 2007 TED talk for him to share his passion with the world. His original viz (now one of many) shows the relationship between income and life expectancy. The data is simple but Rosling’s visual storytelling has allowed him to spread his passion for this fascinating, overlooked data to millions.

3. March on Moscow – Charles Minard

In 1812, Napoleon marched to Moscow in order to conquer the city. 98% of his soldiers died. Fifty years later, while his country yearned for their former Imperial glory, the Parisian engineer Charles Minard chose to remind his country of the horrors of war with data. The simple but fascinating temperature line below the viz shows how cold ultimately defeated Napoleon’s army. This viz still inspires those who see it to ponder the true cost of war.

Want to read more? Download the rest of the whitepaper!



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