Scott Murray is a code artist who writes software to create data visualizations and other interactive phenomena. His work incorporates elements of interaction design, systems design, and generative art. Scott is an Assistant Professor of Design at the University of San Francisco, a contributor to Processing, and author of "Interactive Data Visualization for the Web: An Introduction to Designing with D3."
The fundamental role of data visualization is to express information in a form more palatable to human perception than rows and columns of raw values. We are visual creatures, and visualization is a necessary tool for our brains to acquire, explore, analyze, and reason with data. Douglas Engelbart’s recent passing has me reflecting on why we do what we do, and whether or not we are fulfilling Engelbart’s goal of “augmenting human intellect.” On one hand, visualization is a technology perfectly suited to support this goal. Yet, too often, we see graphics whose inaccuracy and oversimplification is fundamentally misleading, effectively dumbing us down — the opposite of what we need. This is not just a gripe about poorly designed visuals; this is an opportunity to reevaluate the values that inform our work. How can we reframe and refocus our work on the worthy goals of visionaries like Engelbart and Vannevar Bush? With some adjustments, visualization can play a less trivial, more fundamental role within the larger domains of technology and society.
Sometimes you want to use circles to clearly present your data; sometimes you just want to fill circles in with pretty colors and have them fly around the screen, because it looks awesome. This off-kilter introduction to D3 will teach you how to do both of those equally valid, time-honored activities. We’ll cover the fundamental concepts of D3 — loading data, generating visual elements based on that data — and then walk through several code samples, illustrating some of the nutty things you can do with this serious tool.
Requirements: You will need your own laptop with the following installed and ready to go: a text or code editor of your choice, a new web browser (Chrome is best for our purposes), and a local web server (e.g., MAMP or Python simple server).
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