Building a Better Data Visualization Culture


Data visualization has become part of everybody's lives – even before we all turned into armchair epidemiologists during the pandemic. Executives in every organisation understand the value in data and want to glean insights. Workers of all stripes are being guided by visualizations of demand, opportunities, progress and risk. And consumers are habitually using apps to track their finances, fitness and the environment through the lens of data viz. Despite this ubiquity, there are barriers that many data viz practitioners hit in creating maximum value from their work. Requests for insight from bosses and colleagues can be poorly defined, inconsistent and constantly changing. Data literacy can vary hugely between audiences. Visualization can also throw a spotlight on weaknesses in data gathering or processing which need engagement from across the organisation to fix. These challenges are as much about humans and culture as they are about techniques and technology. And as tools become more sophisticated, data projects become more ambitious in scale, and the shift to machine learning implementations continues, data visualization will only become more important. In this session, communication consultant and data visualization specialist Alan Rutter will break down the most common problems he has encountered in fully embedding a data viz culture into organisations – whether government departments, large corporates, startups, or charities and NGOs. He will explore the roots of the issues, and suggest practical approaches to allow both leaders and the people responsible for visualizing data to overcome these barriers. Specific subjects covered will include: managing relationships with non-expert stakeholders; evaluating and understanding requirements from across your organisation; using data viz to improve data gathering; playing an active role in educating and raising data literacy; and becoming an advocate for the power of data visualisation.


Alan Rutter is the founder of consultancy Fire Plus Algebra and is a specialist in communicating complex subjects through data visualization, writing, and design. He has worked as a journalist, product owner, and trainer for brands and organizations including Guardian Masterclasses, WIRED, Time Out, the Home Office, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Open Data Science




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