Jason Forrest is the Director of the McKinsey & Co. Data Visualization Lab and Editor-in-Chief of Nightingale. Check out his writing for Nightingale here.
1. If you could be any type of chart, what would you be?
I would, of course, be an Isotype. That would not make me a little person, but rather a chart that is friendly, fun, and more focused on the bigger message than the statistical nuance. It’s really a fair comparison into how I perceive myself at least and who I am as a person. Maybe it explains my deep fascination with the history of Isotype, too!
2. You can invite any three people in the data visualization space, past or present, to a dinner party. Who would you invite and why?
It would be a dinner party at a normal apartment, maybe in Europe somewhere, with Otto & Marie Neurath, Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, and Erwin Raisz. But because I like to break the rules I’d bring along Nigel Holmes, Richard Saul Wurman, Rudolf Modley, and the Gorilla Girls. I bet that party would get pretty wild actually.
3. What’s one visualization that’s inspired you?
Patrick Abercrombie’s “The Greater London Plan,” specifically “London Social and Functional Analysis,” Patrick Abercrombie, 1944. Known colloquially as the potato map, this chart represents urban planning in a way that I find deeply beautiful and historically significant. Abercrombie was an urban planner and was tasked with reimagining what post-war London would look like after the German bombing blitz. The report spans multiple years, but this map was central to many aspects of the plan as it fundamentally redistricted the industrial and residential footprint of the city. Also, it just looks cool.