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Infographics For The Crafty: Data Visualizations Using Household Objects

A Bogota designer promotes DIY data viz using balloons, tape, and other things you can find in your drawers.
March 24, 2014, 4:00pm

Jose Duarte is a designer specializing in data visualization. To him, the craft is less about software-aided technical perfection and more about making data imaginable for everyone. Duarte writes that the heart of visualization is to “clarify concepts and change minds.” To achieve those ends, he’s created a Handmade Visualization Toolkit, inviting people to create public displays of data using elementary tools like balloons, tape, and rubber balls.

Duarte has visualized the growth of the Internet with balloons in bushes and compared the world’s most popular Twitter users by planting wooden blocks IRL as a makeshift bar graph. This fall, he even led a workshop in handmade data visualization; participants used chalk and tape to install infographics in the streets of Vienna.

Some people take issue with the imprecision of hand-crafted visualization, but Duarte insists that being exact is not the point. If an infographic is mathematically accurate but visually confusing, it’s useless to the general population, like using perfect punctuation but writing in a language your audience doesn’t speak. Besides introducing comprehensive information to a large audience, Duarte believes handmade data visualization is important because it’s a meditative experience for the creator. Turning numbers into tangible structures makes them all the more accessible. Plus, with DIY data viz, you can finally put the things in the “random drawer” of your house to good use. About time you used those leftover party balloons, right?

Duarte provides a convenient guide to making your own toolkit here.

Photos thanks to Jose Duarte

H/T @Golan