Rather than moan, I will just put together something very fast and very simple – which of course isn’t a real entry.
Yes. It is overly simple. No. It isn’t very graphical.
But it’s better than doing nothing…
PS. “An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.” – Buddha
Putting together a chart or a graphic that tries to share an insight is one of the most interesting parts of my work. Perhaps even more interesting though, is working out what people have actually taken away in their heads.
Most all of us have played Chinese whispers, and we totally get that the things we say aren’t always the things people hear. Sometimes though this isn’t just what we say and how it’s changed. Sometimes it’s what we seem to have implied, even if we didn’t mean to imply anything at all. Watching this whole other set of communication in how graphics communicate information can really stretch your mind.
A really cool way of seeing the impact of something like this is looking at the map of the London underground versus the actual map of London (thanx Infosthetics). Another way to see an impact is to look at diagram like the one below. If you saw it as a conceptual diagram then you might not think anything of the relative sizing of groups, but if you saw it as a true Venn diagram where shapes and overlaps represented meaningful relationships, sizes and overlaps your interpretation would be very different.
I try to be aware of what the graphic I build might be saying to someone beyond the thing I am trying to communicate, but generally all doing this does is teach me is that people can be very creative in applying meaning. There is a movement at hand to to ensure news infographics are based in fact and have some integrity. But how would we even know?
It’s a fun challenge isn’t it 🙂
PS. “Data isn’t like your kids. You don’t have to pretend to love them equally” – Amanda Cox (New York Times Graphic Editor)
Just watching the comments fly over at Nathan Yau’s blog, Flowing Data, which follows from a post by a giant in the field, Stephen Few who was commenting on the work of another name in this space David McCandless, it occurs to me that the Web 2.0 ideal of collaborative communities is perhaps further away than some of us think. Nathan Yau and the Flowing Data community are all interested in doing better work around data visualisation. Stephen Few and David McCandless are both immensely smart and successful thought leaders.
– So why isn’t the flurry of comments bringing great ideas to improve the delivery of insight through easy to use interfaces?
I like to think that I will (or rather I am always aiming to) consider opposing points of view when working through a problem – Tufte and Few books sit side by side on my bookshelf. Having a fairly eclectic reading list hopefully helps me consider a range of viewpoints as well. But I know this is something I can always work on.
One of the things I most admire in a leader is someone who knows what their blind spot/ weakness is and who has a consistent strategy in place to ensure that it doesn’t hurt their team’s delivery. I am generally in awe of facilitators who can work with a room of people who are at each other throats but can bring them to a an agreed point of view. I am always impressed when people can build on the ideas of others and grow them into something great.
The quote that goes with this is a no brainer of course: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton
But maybe it’s bigger than that. What if we all need each other to continually build on all of our ideas if we are going to make it. Data visualisation is not world hunger, but maybe the principles of everyone working together bringing success for all is at the core of our very future.
PS. “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society” – Vince Lombardi
This is a team that has been very successful in the past, but hasn’t won the division for a number of years, despite having a very strong win-loss record. I am also its 5th coach in 5 years. Trials are currently underway with a number of returning players, plus a number of new players looking to be part of the team. I will be making selections in the next week.
One of the first things I have done to ensure the players are clear about my expectations is to share my philosophy of volleyball with them. While I have said these things many times already, I felt it would be useful to also have this written down.
If we can deliver these things as a team then we ought to do well.
“Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached their goal; while other, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than before.” – Polybius
While I have an interest in these things I’m not a designer, I’m not a data scientist, and given the work I do, I only sort of qualify as an analyst anymore.
But that doesn’t stop me trying…
Let me know what you think of my entry.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.” – W.C.Fields
…actually it’s INCREDIBLY easy to criticise. Something that has probably not escaped Good and Greg Hubacek this week. Together they released an infographic joining together High School completion rates, College Degree completion rates, and median income levels across county’s across the US. I have included a small picture of it here. According to most commenter’s, making the picture bigger probably won’t help it be more meaningful or easier to understand.
Building tools that try to simply communicate elements (which is essentially what I and many others do), isn’t easy. Having a bunch of people essentially providing fairly negative commentary on your work publicly would not be nice either. For all any of us know, there may have been limits imposed on the team that gave them fewer options (I know what that is like), there may have been ideas they were stuck with using (one of their responses to comments mentions how they didn’t include interactivity). In any case, being a little colour blind, I’m not really able to know how difficult this is to pick this up. Certainly I struggled, but that does happen to me (eg. sometimes when I’m shopping and get asked for the purple shirt – “no, not the blue one”).
Rather than just add to the comments about this one. I decided I would try and do something with it. Nothing may come of it. It might be that it just sits there as a monument to a few wasted hours I won’t get back.
– But at least I will have done something and not just been part of the noise.
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little” – Edmund Burke
A great piece of information visualisation/ consolidation in itself.
Something I will return to over and over.
PS. “We aren’t in an information age, we are in an entertainment age.” – Tony Robbins