• Qinyu Ding

The Truthful Art - Ch 10 & Ch 12

In chapter 10, Professor Cairo talked about mapping data. A map includes its scale, projection, and symbols. Thematic maps, which are maps with data on them, allow readers to understand and explore some specific feature / attribute of a place as well as its spatial patterns and the comparison / relationship with other places. Symbols showing on a map encode more information than themselves. For example, lines on a map encode information about direction, where they come from and where they are going. Color shades represent intensity of a specific attribute of a given area / place. With proper choice of breaks and classes and other attributes like color shades, a data map can help us reveal more information from the comparison of different places around the world.

I can't agree more with what he said in the book "Never trust software defaults." Especially when I was using Flourish to explore my data. Look at these graphics below:

Above are the three graphics I had when I was looking at the population of each country. Since the range of population around the world varies largely, countries like China and India which have rather large populations stand out so much so that countries with relatively smaller population become unconspicuous. Therefore, it is really hard to find anything if we go with the default setting by Flourish. From left to right, the bins of legends are 14, 21, 34. We can see that Russia only really stands out until the number of bins increases to 34.

You'll never know what you will find out if you don't try to see things from different perspectives. The same goes for the form of charts. In chapter 12, creativity and innovation were mentioned. In this chapter, Professor Cairo introduced a lot of novel and amazing data visualization works that are so attractive and informative. For most readers, I believe attractiveness is the prerequisite of informativeness, or shall I say, exploration. Inside each person's body, I believe there is an urge and capacibility to explore unknown things. Readers are not so silly as they were expected to be. But what if they are looking at a graphic with very informative information but has a confusing appearance? Then the journalist who made it is the one who is holding his / her readers back.

Source: https://www.statschat.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/guncontrol.png

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