Top Nine TED Talks for Information Visualization Creators

TED Talks are a great source of information on anything and everything. They can range from in-depth discussions of ethics, robotics, and space travel to tutorials on how to tie your shoes correctly and everything in between.

If you search long enough, you will also discover that there are some excellent TED Talks geared towards the understanding of data visualization.

My Book Recommendations

Here are nine of the best TED Talks specifically for information visualization creators.

The Beauty of Data Visualization 

First up is the data journalist David McCandless, who transforms complex data sets into simple and beautiful diagrams that show otherwise unseen patterns and connections. The best way to see through the crazy amounts of data is through good design, McCandless says – and it could transform the world.

Designing Books is No Laughing Matter 

Graphic designer Chip Kidd shows us how to bring art and thoughtfulness in the cover designs of books boiling the content down to represent it graphically. This funny TED Talk is entertaining and educational.

Social Maps that Reveal a City’s Intersections – and Separations 

Serial entrepreneur and curator of TEDxMidAtlantic, Dave Troy shows what people can learn about any given city through social media sharing. Troy starts with his own hometown of Baltimore, mining social data to expose the hidden intersections and separations of his city.

The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen 

Data visionary and global health expert, the late Hans Rosling used data to debunk several myths about the so-called “developing world,” doing it all with the entertaining delivery of a professional sportscaster. This has to be one of the best data visualizations both in graphics and delivery. (His BBC Video is even better!)

Who Controls the World? 

James Glattfelder, a complex systems theorist,  shows how systems are interconnected whether those are just flocks of birds or global economic engines. Using network analysis, Glattfelder shows how just a handful of individuals can alter the course of worldwide economics.

How Not to be Ignorant About the World 

Another TED Talk from the brilliant and entertaining Hans Rosling! This one focuses on global population, health, and income data – and how we’re ignorant about much of the world outside our phone screens.

Battling Bad Science 

Ben Goldacre, doctor, epidemiologist, and professional debunker, walks the audience through how to identify fake data used as evidence in new health products and services. Learn all the tricks of the trade from a master of pointing them out.

What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness 

The director of a psychological study on success and happiness lasting 75 years, Robert Waldinger shows how having access to nearly a century’s worth of data reveals that fame and money aren't really measures of happiness.

The Curly Fry Conundrum: Your Social Media Likes Expose More Than You Think 

Jennifer Golbeck, a University of Maryland computer scientist, asks the important question: how does revealing seemingly innocuous information about yourself on social media expose you? Golbeck shows how important data and information control is in the social media age.

There you have it. Nine TED talks on information visualization. Your next few hours on YouTube are going to be fun.

Which other TED talk did I miss?

About the Author

A co-author of Data Science for Fundraising, an award winning keynote speaker, Ashutosh R. Nandeshwar is one of the few analytics professionals in the higher education industry who has developed analytical solutions for all stages of the student life cycle (from recruitment to giving). He enjoys speaking about the power of data, as well as ranting about data professionals who chase after “interesting” things. He earned his PhD/MS from West Virginia University and his BEng from Nagpur University, all in industrial engineering. Currently, he is leading the data science, reporting, and prospect development efforts at the University of Southern California.