Weekly Data Viz #7

Each Tuesday,  Eurry Kim, a student in our class, will pick one example of data visualization to share with us. Eurry writes in an email titled “Viz for the Stormy Week”:

In light of Sandy, I was thinking about how crises pull people together and make them forget about petty differences — particularly political differences. Ha, well, here’s a visualization to remind you of those political differences again!

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/10/05/business/economy/one-report-diverging-perspectives.html [Rachel’s Note: One of the authors, Mike Bostock, used to work at Square and coined the phrase “ambient analytics” that Ian Wong from Square used last week.] You have to go to the link and use the interactive features to get the full effect.

This simple graphic provides three perspectives:

1. The facts

2. The Democrat’s view of those facts

3. The Republican’s view of those facts

After being mesmerized (!!) by the work of Mark Hansen and Jer Thorp in last Wednesday’s class, I felt like I needed to find a super-uber creative viz for this week. I was looking for something “design-y,” but then I ran into the bar graph and line plot combination in this NYT visualization. These two methods of graphical representation are basic, simple, and accessible. They’re old, but they’re still important and useful — they still have their places in our world. This NYT visualization, in my mind, demonstrates the power and utility of these simple graphic methods. The addition of reference lines and (red/blue) colors communicate the whole of the partisan messages within these simple graphs. It’s kind of appalling that the crux of these graphics channels the “lies, damned lies, and statistics” idiom. But, the underlying message promotes the understanding of the “surprising” fact that Democrats and Republicans alike are going to wear their politically-colored glasses and see what they want to see. Mark Hansen mentioned that a good visualization accomplishes a balance between recognizable facts and an element of surprise… do you think this one does that? This one certainly bowled ME over!

Stay safe!


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