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Remembering Alexander von Humboldt

Jason Norwood-Young
Jason Norwood-Young
2019-10-25

We may all think that Cairo, Tufte, Chalabi, McCandless, Rosling, Lupi and their ilk are the pioneers of data visualisation, but the real data viz groundbreakers were creating the concept of data viz hundreds of years before D3.js. Smithsonian.com remembers Alexander von Humboldt, not a household name today, but a scientific superstar and global phenom in his pre-social media day (1769 to 1859). In addition to kicking off biogeography, discovering human-caused climate change, and traveling all over the Americas, he produced stunning and ground-breaking data visualisations of the complex environments he studied.

Jason Norwood-Young
  • Journalist, developer, community builder, newsletter creator and international man of mystery, Jason was one of the first South Africans to really grasp the importance of data in the newsroom and has remained one step ahead of the trends in the field all the way. Even Naked Data was conceived before email newsletters were cool again. But what does that tell you about the measure of the man? Nothing, that's what. He hides the superman CV behind a truly mild-mannered and overly modest persona and is best described as "one of the nicest guys in the business". When he's angry, it is righteously so, and his anger always wears velvet mittens. The true signs of his genius include the ability to create multilingual puns on demand (witness the alternative Naked Data strap "Putting the heita in to data") and the fact that he offered me a job. (AO)

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