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art + science

Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference — San Francisco, 2013

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Design loves science and science loves design, but doesn't always know it. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

science design

Together with Alberto Cairo, I presented at the Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference (highlights) on the topic of design and communication in the sciences.

Alberto, as the journalist, motivated why communication should include access to detail through an engaging narrative. He made the distinction between the specialist (heavy on detail) and the communicator (focus on narrative) and emphasized that the distinction is artificial, though often played out (watch video).

I, as the scientist, underscored the importance of clear communication between scientists. As the specialists, they are often very poor communicators. Pick up any science journal and you'll quickly discover that scientists either aren't good at telling stories or are discouraged to do so by the medium. The consequence is the same: papers read like a wall of text. TL;DR anyone? The quality of visual communication in general ranges from muddled to abysmal (watch video).

We need more leaders in the field, such as Nature Publishing Group, to reward and emphasize good visual communication (e.g. Nature Cancer Review 2013 Figure Calendar).

Our presentations concluded with a 15 minute moderated discussion with Sam Grobart, senior Businesssweek writer. Everyone got a little cheeky. Good fun.

presentation video

Watch: my presentation, conversation with Alberto Cairo, moderated by Sam Grobart. (Bloomberg TV), Albert Cairo's presentation.

presentation slides

This was a lightning 7 minute talk. I did more planning about what to say than I usually do, given that there was virtually no opportunity for any kind of backtracking, and include a running narrative below each slide.

Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
Martin Krzywinski - Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference 2013
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download presentation

My slides are available as PDF, keynote (zipped) or Quicktime. The format is 16:9 HD.

Bloomberg Businessweek Design Issue

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
The reality of redesign is disruptive. How can we pursue new ideas and opportunities without leaving consumers confused or angry? Businessweek puts that question to some of the world's most accomplished designers. (Bloomberg Businessweek Design Issue)

On 28 Jan 2013, Bloomberg Businessweek Design Issue will capture the ideas from the conference and the personalities that generated them.

During the conference, each talk was captured in a series of sketches by Tom Wujec: my talk sketch and moderated discussion sketch.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Date completed: ongoing — an accurate assessment of the state of the visual communication field in science. (read article)

news + thoughts

Happy 2015 Pi Day—can you see `pi` through the treemap?

Sat 14-03-2015

Celebrate `pi` Day (March 14th) with splitting its digit endlessly. This year I use a treemap approach to encode the digits in the style of Piet Mondrian.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Digits of `pi`, `phi` and `e`. (details)

The art has been featured in Ana Swanson's Wonkblog article at the Washington Post—10 Stunning Images Show The Beauty Hidden in `pi`.

I also have art from 2013 `pi` Day and 2014 `pi` Day.

Split Plot Design

Tue 03-03-2015

The split plot design originated in agriculture, where applying some factors on a small scale is more difficult than others. For example, it's harder to cost-effectively irrigate a small piece of land than a large one. These differences are also present in biological experiments. For example, temperature and housing conditions are easier to vary for groups of animals than for individuals.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Split plot design. (read)

The split plot design is an expansion on the concept of blocking—all split plot designs include at least one randomized complete block design. The split plot design is also useful for cases where one wants to increase the sensitivity in one factor (sub-plot) more than another (whole plot).

Altman, N. & Krzywinski, M. (2015) Points of Significance: Split Plot Design Nature Methods 12:165-166.

Background reading

1. Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Designing Comparative Experiments Nature Methods 11:597-598.

2. Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and blocking Nature Methods 11:699-700.

3. Blainey, P., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Replication Nature Methods 11:879-880.

...more about the Points of Significance column

Color palettes for color blindness

Tue 03-03-2015

In an audience of 8 men and 8 women, chances are 50% that at least one has some degree of color blindness1. When encoding information or designing content, use colors that is color-blind safe.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A 12-color palette safe for color blindness

Points of Significance Column Now Open Access

Tue 10-02-2015

Nature Methods has announced the launch of a new statistics collection for biologists.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column is now open access. (column archive)

As part of that collection, announced that the entire Points of Significance collection is now open access.

This is great news for educators—the column can now be freely distributed in classrooms.

...more about the Points of Significance column

Before and After—Designing Tiny Figures for Nature Methods

Tue 13-01-2015

I've posted a writeup about the design and redesign process behind the figures in our Nature Methods Points of Significance column.

I have selected several figures from our past columns and show how they evolved from their draft to published versions.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Fig 2 from Points of Significance: Nested designs. (Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Nature Methods 11:977-978.) (...more)

Clarity, concision and space constraints—we have only 3.4" of horizontal space— all have to be balanced for a figure to be effective.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Fig 2c (excerpt) from Points of Significance: Designing comparative experiments. (Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Nature Methods 11:597-598.) (...more)

It's nearly impossible to find case studies of scientific articles (or figures) through the editing and review process. Nobody wants to show their drafts. With this writeup I hope to add to this space and encourage others to reveal their process. Students love this. See whether you agree with my decisions!