Photo Credit to Visual Complexity, Manuel Lima

Visual Complexity is where Inclr wants to be.

Manuel Lima’s book titled “Visual Complexity”, has long been a favourite of mine. It’s a data visualisation book and it’s website is a place where anyone interested in this science / data artform would go and explore.

When I first picked up the book I was like a kid in a candy store. Obsessed? No. Simply amazed that finally someone had put something together that showcased the pure merge of art / graphics and data.

I have a theory: That your data represents you better than how you represent yourself. If we have tools to peer into your data, in such a way that it was graphically expressive of your character, of your soul, then how much better would we know about each other? How much trust can be established from that beginning? It’s a theory that I live with always, and doggedly won’t give up on.

Luckily, I have Inclr — a system I concocted which plays with this kind of theory. Rudimentary, yes. Experimental? Kind of. I take it very seriously as we do have a patent now. Exploratory? Absolutely!

Inclr attempts to make data visualisation not reside in just raster pixels and vector graphics. Infographics should be alive with us, living every day and breathing. They should follow us and represent us over time, not just a moment in time, not just when commissioned by someone.

Inclr tries to create the protocols that allows our data to shine through the graphics which derives from the data itself. How? For example, a simple search happens every time Inclr saves a website. It tries to find an icon that best represents the site. Simple, but when done over time, all your website bookmarks are easily recognisable. An icon is created from every stroke you draw on a Sketch in Inclr. Images and video use thumbnail icons. RSS uses the host’s icon. Every piece of data attempts to iconise itself such that its recognisable.

So, icons are saved. So what? Next is the inclr (the entire circular bundle of data) looks a little like an infographic datacircle. The intention is that in the future we can explore how it can be a better infographic, but for now, inclrs are a simple graphical bundle of data. They are customised to the user’s/brands liking and sets up an atmosphere ready for consuming the data. The circular lines around the central image can change thickness and styling according to use case. In this the image below, the line thickness represent most visited nodes (nodes are the smaller circles).

Finally, Inclr also supports a mind mapping view with clustering. The screenshot below shows an although rudimentary implementation, but a rather effective one in terms of navigation. The feature was released only recently and my personal use of it has further solidified how effective spatial information organisation can be when done right.

The navigation is in its current implementation involves a 2 click process. Click on a group to zoom to that group. Click again to zoom to that inclr for viewing and editing. Click the bottom right icon to zoom back out to choose another group / inclr.

This navigation style has been extremely effective in my daily use of Inclr. Normally I use the horizontal list organisation as shown below:

The horizontal list style is better when you dont have many inclrs. I have 35 inclrs, each ranging from 6–20 nodes. (I have some with 5 layers — layers are not in the current release but will come soon). Some inclrs are 1Mb, one of them is 80Mbs. Needless to say, I have a lot of info stored into Inclr, and I’m not even a person that likes to organise. Those who love organising, like Gene from our team, use Inclr like an essential organiser.

So switching from the horizontal style to a map style has been a welcome change. Much more intuitive and natural to zoom in and out, than to swipe left or right. That’s how we focus, live and play in real life. Swiping is simply unnatural.

One day, I hope I can get to the expressiveness shown in Visual Complexity. One day perhaps I can even have a decent conversation with my hero Mr Lima. But for now, tech startup bootstrapping is all I have in my Inclr list.

If you want to check out Inclr on the iOS App Store, here is the link:

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