Information is Beautiful has been set-up to publicise and expand upon his forthcoming book, which is all about the wonderful world of data visualisation - and it features some truly illuminating ways of representing information.
If you belieeeeeeeeve they put a man on the moon, man on the moooooooon! sang Michael Stipe, as he thoughtfully ruminated the most interesting news story of 1969.
What Mike failed to consider, however, was that thanks to the wonders of anthropomorphisation, there's been a man on the moon since way before Neil Armstong. That's not to say things haven't changed since the early years, though. These days he's got a wife. Not to mention a pet rabbit.
Yes, my final piece of anthropomorphic inspiration comes courtesy of The Moon - or, more specifically, the Mighty Boosh, with their unique take on what our lunar companion would say if he could talk (as demonstrated in their live shows last year). Classic.
Now go take some humanity and put it in a strange place. It's fun. And, if you do it right, people might just love you for it.
If there's one thing that us human beings like, it's being human.
In fact, we like it so much that we want everything else to be human too. Or at least, more accurately, our socially wired brains are programmed to look for "human" signals everywhere - and get tickled when they find them.
I could wang on about anthropomorphism in product design (think cars, vodka bottles or angle poise lamps) but instead I'm going to share a few examples of anthropomorphism in art that have caught my imagination recently.
For part one, check out these cool photos from Czech artist Vlad Artazov. And just remember the next time you're doing the DIY - nails are people too, yeah?!
Less than 24 hours ago, Usain Bolt decimated the 100m world record with a time of 9.58 seconds. Today, the analysts have been out in force and The Guardian has been running these neat little graphs (compiled by Timetric), showing just how big a dent he's left.
Timetric's Andrew Walkingshaw sums it up nicely:
That bit at the end? That's what Usain Bolt's doing to the record book. Here's the best way to put it into perspective: to go from 9.86 to 9.72 (Usain Bolt's first world record) took just under seventeen years. Taking roughly the same amount again off the record — 9.72 to 9.58 — has taken Usain Bolt fifteen months.
Like all true legends, Bolt still thinks he can do better, however. He's aready got his sights set on 9.4 - and, looking at the facts, who'd dare bet against him?
In the face of an ever-increasing tidal wave of data, companies today have two choices: drown, or learn to surf. Now, whilst most of us are trying to keep our heads above water, the ones who got started early are out there pulling tricks. One such company is IBM.
In a campaign that's just launched in the UK (although I think the States have had it for a while now) IBM have come out in force to celebrate the information revolution and showcase the ways it's changing our world for the better. The message is that IBM are on a mission to create a "Smarter Planet" - and personally, I think it's a very clever campaign indeed.
As well as feeling fresh and engaging, whilst true to IBM's fairly corporate image, Smarter Planet is effectively a land grab around the clever use of information for the benefit of society - a positioning which should only become more powerful and relevant in the years to come.
At a time when fear of information remains rife, the use of ordinary people and IBM employees is also smart, as their humanity and warmth should help conquer concerns that this data driven future will be mechanical and cold. If I was an IBM employee it would also help me feel like a bit of a rock star - and proud, passionate employees are some of the best adverts you can get for any company.
Smarter Planet is a big, rich and interesting idea that IBM have already begun exploring in lots of ways. Here are just a few to get you started - from the launch manifesto to the ways that information will revolutionise healthcare.
Jill and Kevin Heinz met when Kevin’s childhood friend, Jeff, married Jill’s college friend, Ann, in 2005. Jill couldn't resist Kevin’s wit and charm. Kevin couldn't resist Jill’s intellect, not to mention her remarkable dance moves. This year, they got married and this video of their church entrance has clocked up over 30m views on Youtube, for one reason and one reason only: because it is AWESOME.
So far, so heartwarming, but the story gets even more interesting when you realise that the video is actually something of a landmark in music video history. That's because Chris Brown's record company decided to put that little overlay to buy a copy of the song at the start of it, rather than kicking up a fuss about the fact that their song had been used without permission.
The results have been astounding, with double average click through rates of other Click-to-Buys. Interest in the song also seems to have rubbed off on the original music video, which saw its Click-to-Buy CTR increase by 2.5x at the end of July. Most importantly, however, the song has rocketed up the US music charts, reaching as high as #4 on the iTunes singles chart and #3 on Amazon's best selling MP3 list over a year after its release.
The result is a whole heap of lessons about branding today and here are just three:
1. Throw away your dictionary: old definitions of things like "music video" and "advertising" are being re-written fast.
2. Context is king: a little nudge at the right time can make a big difference - and our data rich, hyperlinked world is is full of opportunities to grab people with the right message at the right moment.
3. Remember that the public has the last laugh: Chris Brown may have seen his chart position rise off the back of his record company's ad, but the decision of the happy couple to add their own overlay - for a charity that campaigns against domestic violence - is a healthy reminder of where the balance of power lies when it comes to reputation.