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Books, Data visualisation, podcast

Florence Nightingale and the history of dataviz

Emma Willard’s Temple of Time from 1845

RJ Andrews is the founder of data design studio Info We Trust and author of a new series of books delving into the deep history of of data visualisation and storytelling. In this episode of the pod, he talks about three significant parts of the history of data visuals: Florence Nightingale, Emma Willard and Étienne-Jules Marey. While Nightingale created powerful visuals that changed how we understand mortality, Willard portrayed time itself. And Marey wrote a guide to visualising data that seems current today. You can buy the books here.

Florence Nightingale’s mortality diagram draft from 1856

The music this week, made with TwoTone, is life expectancy, based on a dataset used in the Nightingale book and provided to us by RJ. Life expectancy at birth is defined as the average number of years that a newborn could expect to live if he or she were to pass through life subject to the age-specific mortality rates of a given period. Data compiled by Our World in Data based on estimates by James C. Riley, Clio Infra, and the United Nations Population Division.

Listen to the latest episode of the Data Journalism Podcast here >>

About Simon Rogers

Data journalist, writer, speaker. Author of 'Facts are Sacred', from Faber & Faber and a range of infographics for children books from Candlewick. Edited and launched the Guardian Datablog. Now works for Google in California as Data Editor and is Director of the Sigma awards for data journalism.


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About me

Data journalist, writer, speaker. Author of 'Facts are Sacred', published by Faber & Faber and a new range of infographics for children books from Candlewick. Data editor at Google, California. Formerly at Twitter, San Francisco. Created the Guardian Datablog. All opinions on this site are mine, not my employers'. Read more >>

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