Monday, March 23, 2015

More about data decoration

In the past months there has been some controversy around certain words I wrote about visualization/infographics and data decoration. Boundaries are always very fuzzy but just a reminder I still believe that there's a fundamental difference between graphics designed to enable understanding (visualization/infographics) and those that are intended mainly to embellish numbers or enliven a page (data decoration.)

I've just found a good example to illustrate my point. Ask yourself if this graphic lets you do anything with the data comparing values, seeing relationships between them, etc., or if figures have been arranged to create nice-looking picture, instead:

(UPDATE: Stefanie Posavec and Moritz Stefaner have suggested the term “data illustration” rather than “decoration”, as it sounds less demeaning. I disagree. I love Baroque architecture, so I think that decorative art can be valuable, and can be done well or badly —perhaps the case here. But I am fine with “data illustration”, too.)