Last night I woke up at 1am to such a hacking and rustling commotion that I was almost convinced Chris’ immune system had staged some sort of exorcism inside his lungs. Afterwards as I tried to fall back asleep, I remembered that I had invoked Florence Nightingale’s name in my blog post. This is totally the sort of weird sh*t I normally think of when I’m awake in the middle of the night.
Anyways, I realized that I had not only mentioned Florence Nightingale but had also committed a sin against my fellow women by not invoking her for the right reasons.
In other words, for not truly honoring her for the innovator she was.
Because sure, she was a saintly vision in the night to soldiers wounded during the Crimean War, but few history books honor her true accomplishments: transforming nursing into a profession, instilling sanitary practices in hospitals, and most interestingly, being “a pioneer in visual information presentation.” Quote source: wikipedia.
Did you know that this woman quite literally made pie charts cool? She also invented something known as the Nightingale Polar Area Diagram that is still used today by infographic designers and staticians everywhere. Imagine!
That might not sound like a big deal today in a world overflowing with information, but think about how different our magazines and classrooms and newspapers might look if she (or someone else) hadn’t realized that presenting data in a visually attractive format fundamentally changes how people react to the information? Think about how democratically legible these charts and graphs make data for the everyday reader, how quickly we can absorb information and make informed decisions from just a quick glance at a few colored circles and lines!
It makes me think of all of the neat infographics that GOOD magazine and others put out and wonder if we would still have those if Nightingale hadn’t gotten so darn influential with all of her graphs and charts.
So next time you too are thinking about Florence Nightingale at 1am while nursing your significant other back to health, remember her not just as the “lady with the lamp” but as “the lady with the pie chart.” I swear its just as romantic and sexy.
p.s. I changed my blog appearance again, you like?