Sunday, January 5, 2014

Elegant maps reveal a grim reality

As much as I believe that thematic maps are often misused in the news —I'm hardly alone in pointing this out— their lure is undeniable. Maps grab our attention much more effectively than abstract charts, and they are often engrossing, like the one above, published yesterday by The New York Times (direct link). It's a textbook example of how to use choropleth maps (to represent rates and percentages) and proportional symbol maps (to display actual values) properly.

In this recent long article I explained that when I visit projects like this I always wonder why the data aren't also shown in interactive tables, rankings, graphs, etc. If the data is there, in your online database, why don't you let me access them? But these elegant maps are good enough to give you a clear idea of the striking income differences that exist in the U.S. The screenshot above, which I just took, shows the Miami-Dade area, where I live.