Visualising nothing

A few days ago, one of my colleagues, Fiona, shared with me a blog post by Andy Kirk in Harvard Business Review on ‘showing something with nothing’. The concept of using a lack of information and visually representing it as a nothingness and the implied connotations was something that I found really intriguing; So much so that I have decided to share the post here.

It is a very interesting post and reminds me of a debate I once had about whether or not white is a suitable colour for data classification on a map. In my opinion any colour can be justified and in the case of white I used the value of ‘nothing’ to fight my cause, but many others now spring to mind, the most obvious being had the map’s background been any other colour but white!

The first three examples Andy uses are really good because they are so different. The first is making a statement but is balanced. The second appears to be almost accidental but by giving the anonymous no face at all, the designer has clearly intended to draw attention to them. Finally, the third example is somewhat hidden, but I assume would be noted by any baseball fans.

Continue to read the post and there are two more examples, one of which is a map, but anyway, the powerful yet sometimes hidden message of nothing can be read about in full in Andy’s post over on Harvard Business Review entitled ‘Visualizing Zero: How to Show Something with Nothing’.


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