Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A conversation about designing better visualizations —and spotting misleading ones

I talked to the good folks at Discourse a while ago. If you enjoy in-depth journalism, you could consider following them. They've just published an edited version of our conversation, keeping just the good parts.

We discussed several takeaways from my Visual Trumpery lecture series and some of my to-go sources for great news visualization. Here's the most timely part, considering that ProPublica has just announced their partnership with several data scientists:


  1. Mr. Cairo:
    This is a great start. I think visualizations need to be:
    1. as accurate as possible
    2. clear
    3. add to the conversation/article/content
    4. accessible (by people with disabilities, by non-experts in the subject, by medium, etc.)
    5. readable
    6. understandable with the minimum of explanatory text possible (close to none outside of labels)

  2. That's a great list. I'd add "deep," in relationship to my old mantra (borrowed from Nigel Holmes) "Clarify, don't simplify."

    Point number 4 is something that has worried me for years. How do we make visualizations more accessible for people who are visually impaired, for instance? Sound and touch may be a solution, but they are very limited in the amount of data they can encode.

  3. I'm thrilled by the NYTimes' new initiative to teach folks (kids, teachers, the general public) best practices in reading charts and graphs: