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Where am I supposed to go? Where was I supposed to know?Violet Indianaget lost in questions

art: fun



More than Pretty Pictures—Aesthetics of Data Representation, Denmark, April 13–16, 2015


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

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!

Sources of Variation

Thu 08-01-2015

Past columns have described experimental designs that mitigate the effect of variation: random assignment, blocking and replication.

The goal of these designs is to observe a reproducible effect that can be due only to the treatment, avoiding confounding and bias. Simultaneously, to sample enough variability to estimate how much we expect the effect to differ if the measurements are repeated with similar but not identical samples (replicates).

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Sources of Variation. (read)

We need to distinguish between sources of variation that are nuisance factors in our goal to measure mean biological effects from those that are required to assess how much effects vary in the population.

Altman, N. & Krzywinski, M. (2014) Points of Significance: Two Factor Designs Nature Methods 11:5-6.

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

Two Factor Designs

Tue 09-12-2014

We've previously written about how to analyze the impact of one variable in our ANOVA column. Complex biological systems are rarely so obliging—multiple experimental factors interact and producing effects.

ANOVA is a natural way to analyze multiple factors. It can incorporate the possibility that the factors interact—the effect of one factor depends on the level of another factor. For example, the potency of a drug may depend on the subject's diet.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Two Factor Designs. (read)

We can increase the power of the analysis by allowing for interaction, as well as by blocking.

Krzywinski, M., Altman, (2014) Points of Significance: Two Factor Designs Nature Methods 11:1187-1188.

Background reading

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

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

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

...more about the Points of Significance column

Nested Designs—Assessing Sources of Noise

Mon 29-09-2014

Sources of noise in experiments can be mitigated and assessed by nested designs. This kind of experimental design naturally models replication, which was the topic of last month's column.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Nested designs. (read)

Nested designs are appropriate when we want to use the data derived from experimental subjects to make general statements about populations. In this case, the subjects are random factors in the experiment, in contrast to fixed factors, such as we've seen previously.

In ANOVA analysis, random factors provide information about the amount of noise contributed by each factor. This is different from inferences made about fixed factors, which typically deal with a change in mean. Using the F-test, we can determine whether each layer of replication (e.g. animal, tissue, cell) contributes additional variation to the overall measurement.

Krzywinski, M., Altman, N. & Blainey, P. (2014) Points of Significance: Nested designs Nature Methods 11:977-978.

Background reading

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

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

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

...more about the Points of Significance column