Held annually since 2012, the Information is Beautiful Awards are a collaboration between the Kantar data consultancy group and David McCandless, a data journalist and author of similarly-titled, best-selling book, Information is Beautiful.
According to the organisers, the awards ‘celebrate global excellence in data visualisation, infographics and information design’.
Each entry was judged by a panel of 30 experts as well as being put to a public vote. Those voting were advised to look out for the best blend of information, function, story and visual form.
“In this era of ‘fake news’ and social media overload, data visualisation is one of the most powerful ways to get to the truth behind complex stories”
McCandless believes the power of visual data to reveal truth is more important now than ever. ‘In this era of “fake news” and social media overload, data visualisation is one of the most powerful ways to get to the truth behind complex stories,’ he says.
Of this years winners, he goes on to praise them for showing that: ‘data graphics can illuminate complex topics like migration, the gender pay gap and climate change. But they are just as suited to fun topics like the artistry of craft beer, fixing toilets and the Italian surfing scene.’
McCandless is keen to highlight how the 2017 awards have also provided more hope for the future of the form. ‘Experienced data storytellers should watch out,’ he says. ‘Some of the year’s most brilliant work comes from students. It’s a particular honour for me that the awards support up-and-coming creators.’
Among these new storytellers are 23-year-old autistic student, Jory Fleming, who received the Rising Star prize for his maps on Gerrymandering, and Nadieh Bremer, this year’s winner of the Outstanding Individual prize.
Below are the Gold prize winners in each category:
To understand what it terms: ‘the complex phenomenon of violent religious radicalisation’, DensityDesign Lab created a map detailing the journeys of ISIS’ foreign fighters to the territories of their claimed Caliphate, as well as of those who returned.
Boris Toucas, a visiting fellow at security think tank CSIS, describes the infographic as a ‘masterful piece of artwork: comprehensive, accessible, entertaining. More nuanced than many reports on terrorism.’
Working with Google Trends Data, the team behind this winning entry created an interactive data explorer, that shows food trends and patterns over the last 12 years, by visualising Google search data.
‘More than 12 years of weekly Google Trends data supplied us with a rich dataset to explore food trend over the years,’ explains Moritz Stefaner one of the designers. ‘The most interesting revelations happened when we looked at the seasonal rhythm of food in our radial charts. We immediately saw how each vegetable, fruit, dish or drink had its own signature seasonality pattern – some are tied to natural seasons, some to special holidays, some are popular all year long.’
By analysing 100,000 drawings of circles created in Google’s Quick Draw game, from around the world, Quartz attempted to find a visual answer to whether your location and language affect how you draw.
The result is a graphic that the award ceremony describes as ‘not only beautiful, but revealing’.
Dedicated to The Patriotic War of 1812, TASS Russian News Agency created a program based on a map by French engineer Charles Joseph Minard in 1869. This winning entry tracks the route of Napoleon’s army, comparing Minard’s statistics with the latest findings and estimates, to find a new way of visualising one of the turning points in European history. Or as TASS describe it: ‘how the 1812 Patriotic War turned Napoleon’s Grand Army into a handful of survivors.’
Data visualiser and documentary filmmaker Neil Halloran won first prize in the Humanitarian and Global category, for this interactive video showing the possible outcomes of nuclear war.
The first episode in a documentary series that utilises a unique form of cinematic data visualisation, the award organisers particularly praised how it ‘provides a stark reminder of the importance of securing peace in the age of nuclear weapons and examines factors that may contribute to a more peaceful future.’
This entry uses 75,000 music shows over three years to visualise how rare it is for an act to ‘make it big’ in the music industry.
As creators Russel Goldenberg and Dan Kopf explain: ‘For every Chance the Rapper, there are thousands that never play a show with more than a couple of hundred people. For every Lake Street Dive, there are hundreds of promising bands that break up because they lost on their members.’
Berlin-based visual designer and researcher Kim Albrecht studied the evolution of productivity and impact throughout thousands of scientific careers. His visualisation elegantly shows what he refers to as ‘the random impact rule’. This dictates that there is no set pattern for when a scientist’s most impactful work will appear in their career.
Albrecht explains how in his prize-winning work ‘you can explore careers in different disciplines, rank scientists according to different career parameters, or select a subset of them.’
But as the infographic shows, however you look at the data the random impact rule remains clear.
In the Unusual category, Bremer and Wu created a data visualisation of a different topic every month over the period of a year. The diverse topics ranged from movies, books, and music, to nostalgia, Olympics and nature.
The collection demonstrates the creative ways almost any subject can be visualised to reveal a hidden truth within it. But in the words of Bremer and Wu, the project was about ‘exploration, experimentation, and adventure’.