Week 1: Introduction, Data Visualization, Value, Data, Image Models


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6 thoughts on “Week 1: Introduction, Data Visualization, Value, Data, Image Models

  1. John Stinson 02/02/2013 at 10:20 AM Reply

    I’m not sure if this is where the weekly remarks are supposed to go, but I just wanted to comment on Tufte’s section discussing misleading displays of quantitative information. I think that this is a seriously under-considered problem in political and economic discourse.

    Here’s one of my favorite examples from Washington… http://bit.ly/UdF5df

    …and another (unrelated), terrible example from the Economist (notice the X axis): http://bit.ly/UMEOMc

    Do people actually respond to these in a meaningful way? I understand that Tufte believes that the majority of misleading displays are not due to malicious intent; rather, misleading displays are usually due to inexperience in the medium on the part of the reporter or designer. However, there must certainly be a ‘job market,’ as it were, for experienced visualization professionals who have a track record of producing purposefully misleading visualizations.

    • Shujian 02/05/2013 at 3:38 PM Reply

      Hi John,
      Yup, this is where you leave the reply. The two illustrations you’ve found are quite interesting. It’s really misleading when people read the Economist’s graph – the x ais labels are discrete. I think people do respond to these; journalists in the newsrooms are gradually realizing this kind of problems and making changes.

    • Myra 02/05/2013 at 5:32 PM Reply

      And don’t forget this classic: http://www.funnyordie.com/slideshows/7dffb13ac4/the-funniest-fox-news-fails#slide1. Both Gelman and Tufte speak to our sense of moral obligation to not distort, obscure or misrepresent information, and yet I see these kinds of egregious examples every day. What’s even more shocking is that more people aren’t shocked by this misinformation.

    • Shujian 02/05/2013 at 3:44 PM Reply

      Hi Guangyu,
      Thanks for your post! It would be better if you could paste your comments here, as well, so that other people don’t bother clicking on a new link. This is what we also need to pay attention to when we do online graphic or UI design. You might want to check Nielson’s 10 Usability Heuristics: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/ten-usability-heuristics/
      Your post is a good summary. Could you find some examples to make it more convincing?

  2. mey2111 02/05/2013 at 4:32 PM Reply

    An important point that Gelman raises in his piece is the ability of graphics to be used to bring together multiple disciplines in conveying research findings. Thus, providing a clear, accessible graph can thus help to facilitate cross-disciplinary discussions and discoveries, which one might say is an important goal in intellectual pursuits. Of course, as he rightly notes, it is important to know one’s audience in presenting such information so as to maximize the effect, given that some use graphs as a first hook into a topic, and others use graphs as a main tool with which to convey statistical information.

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