Denter of the Week: Noah Iliinsky

noahEach week from now through December, we’ll pose several short questions to a member of the Dent family and share their answers with you. This week’s featured Denter is Noah Iliinsky, an internationally recognized expert in the growing field of data visualization. He is the author of Designing Data Visualizations, and the technical editor of, and a contributor to, Beautiful Visualization, both published by O’Reilly Media.

Say it in a sentence: Whether you’ve met your biggest goal or it’s still ahead of you, how would you like to be known for having dented the universe?
I hope people think my teaching and tools helped them be better at what they do.

What would I know about you after we’d worked together for a year?
I have many strong opinions that I’m not very attached to; show me some evidence and I’ll change my mind and be glad to have learned something. Also, I’m not very punctual.

What fault in others do you have the most patience for?
I’m pretty tolerant of a lot of faults, as long as you are interested in learning and your heart is in the right place.

What natural talent would you most like to be gifted with and why?
Time management. I’m envious of those who seem to organize everything effortlessly.

Who else is doing interesting, universe-denting work right now?
No question, Bret Victor is doing the most interesting thinking about interfaces and how humans build technology to interact with  humans in constructive ways. In the past year I’ve seen many ideas he wrote about in 2006 implemented by Google, etc. He’s a true polymath, visionary, and historian of interface, and he cares deeply about making things better.

Question from last week’s featured Denter, Roem Baur: When you look in the mirror, what surprises you about yourself?
I never expected to end up working in software; I thought I’d end up designing physical things. Also, I never suspected I’d end up in management, but I’m loving it.


Noah Iliinsky strongly believes in the power of intentionally crafted communication. He has spent the last several years researching, writing, and speaking about best practices for designing visualizations, informed by his professional experience developing software, undergraduate work in the sciences, and graduate work in user experience and interaction design. He is a frequent speaker and instructor in both industry and academic contexts. His designs and trainings have been used by organizations including Barclay’s Wealth, Boeing, Corbis, The CIA, The Gates Foundation, IBM, O’Reilly Media, UIE, and VMware.

Author’s Disclaimer: I am married to Noah. In addition to being a great thought leader, he is a terrific husband.

Dent the Future is a conference series that tackles the art and discipline of visionary leadership. The next Dent The Future conference is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.