3 Graphic Insights: Alberto Cairo on Successful Applications of Data Visualization
As many of you know I work in a library at a federal government facility that specializes in statistics. This means that I am often privileged with being able to see some of the cutting edge experts in fields such as data visualization, speak. Last week Alberto Cairo, University of Miami professor in their School of Communication, gave a presentation called Graphic Insights: How scientists and communicators can work together to produce better visualizations and agreed to let me share some of my key take-aways with INALJ.
- Be sure you know the story you are trying to tell. The same data can tell vastly different stories so be certain that the visualization you create (chart, graph, etc) tells the story you want it to tell. In other words, what is your headline or main point?
- Consider the morality and ethics of what you are trying to convey first. An old saying goes, is it true, is it kind, is it necessary? The story may be true but what are the implications and is it ethical to share this particular story? How you tell a story can greatly affect how it is perceived. Stories can change lives, so be careful and cautious when presenting.
- Teach yourself and your patrons how to read data visualizations! This is key for info pros like librarians that we educate our patrons on how to read these stories as infographics are increasingly being used as communication tools. He provided the XKCD comic as an example we can use with patrons to show them, just because several news data maps are true does not make them related.
He gave many fantastic examples and heavily influenced my own choice of charts in the May 2013 INALJ stats article, and I highly recommend that you join him in his Twitter conversations @albertocairo and also check out his personal website The Functional Art and companion must read book also called The Functional Art.
What are some of your favorite Data Visualization tools?
photo taken from http://com.miami.edu/profile/Cairo,Alberto