Inside Visual Capitalist’s Signals Book

LLooking into his spreadsheets, Jeff Desjardins can see the future unfolding. He is the founder of Visual Capitalist, a data-driven content company whose mission is to identify and communicate the trends that will propel the economy into the future in a way that is easy for people to understand.

The company has become known for its infographics – visual representations that cut through the vast expanses of data Visual Capitalist has collected and analyzed to arrive at the concise information it shares with readers. According to Desjardins, 65% of people are visual learners – and for those people, it’s one of the best ways for them to digest information.

Visual Capitalist’s latest book, Signals: 27 trends shaping the future of the global economyis a collection of infographics that detail 27 key trends that could transform our way of life, from the rise of the world’s middle class population to water scarcity.

Technology is likely to provide the answer to how societies deal with these profound changes. “Of the 27 trends we have, probably six or seven of them are directly related to technology, but probably 10 to 15 of them are indirectly related to technology,” Desjardins told the Opto sessions podcast in March.

Illustrated datasets in the book show how health-conscious and planet-conscious consumers are accepting “meatless” meat, while other graphs tell the story of rival ecosystems emerging in the digital realm – a self -called “splinternet”, where instead of a single global internet, some countries choose to create their own digital strongholds.

The data sources used to identify these changes include a mix of information collected by intergovernmental organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF, as well as information from consulting firms such as McKinsey and PwC. Because data isn’t always perfect, the book provides signal-to-noise ratio as an arbitrary measure of the clarity of a trend. This ratio is represented in a range of one to five, with one indicating not clear and five indicating a large guaranteed impact.

“What we were looking for [to do] was to create a book that can serve as a basis for almost anyone [in terms of] which is not up for debate how the world is changing,” Desjardins says of Signals. “It’s not our view that this trend is going to be big – it’s clear through the data that it’s happening, it’s going to continue to happen and it’s going to affect the world.”

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