Monday, October 21, 2013

Visualization and infographics criticism: The Jedi and the Sith

Stephanie Evergreen, who has recently launched a fine book on visualization, has told me of a new Tumblr website she's contributing to, called Thumbs Up Viz. She mentioned that she's tired of people in this field "tearing each other down." I guess that the perfect example of what she had in mind is WTF Visualizations, which posts crazy, silly, and meaningless graphs, charts, and maps, along with funny captions.

When it comes to criticism, I tend to lean toward the approach Andy Kirk outlined in this great article for O'Reilly, as you may guess if you remember this recent post. But I still believe that there's value in making a bit of —reasoned— fun of really bad examples of graphics, including our own (more about this in the next few months.) When it comes to criticism, acting as a gentle Jedi is productive sometimes, but in certain cases it's better to unleash your inner Sith.