Data Visualization: Drawing us in

Written by:  DSC00302 - Version 2 Do we decide to focus on something, or are we drawn to focus on something?  These ideas and others are what we will begin to explore in our new Data Visualization DC meetup.  Personally, I believe we can't help but be drawn in by good presentation, but if what's presented isn't compelling then we quickly lose interest.  The many nuanced layers of the interactive visualizations below draw us in, mimic the physical world, and fulfill our expectation of well segmented classes of information.  The layers of information are contrasted so well that when we want to see those relationships independently, there is a convenient filter built into the visualization.  These visualizations use cartoons to smooth out unimportant detail, and emphasize the artist's intent.  I love playing with these interactive visualizations and breaking them down.  I hope all learning becomes this intuitive.

Zeus's AffairsZeus's Affairs

I remember studying Greek mythology in school, and there were hints that Zeus was naughty, but NEVER did I come across the extent of Zeus's "Divine Influence." Rather than chapters in a textbook on each relationship, we can explore by individual Titan, God, and Mortal, but most importantly by which writer/historian captures the details of the relationships (we're short on eyewitnesses).  This allows us to learn by whatever strikes our fancy at the moment, which is a far more effective way to retain information.  As far as I'm concerned, this is how textbooks should be written.

Immigration Insanityimmigration-flowchart-cartoon

We hear about immigration all the time in the news, and many of us know someone going through the process.  We know the process is difficult but this opacity has never been a legitimate excuse, and we expect ourselves to just figure it out.  Well stop blaming yourself because now that we have the process mapped out for us, it's very clear that the most diligent of people can easily get lost in the immigration maze.  

How did it get this way?  Over Data Drinks you might find me discussing "legal creep," similar to "requirements creep" in engineering, where many small changes result in a very large change overall, and usually one that never would have been approved.  Whatever the process, now that we can see it clearly, it begs for empirical evidence, which this New York Times Interactive Visualization elegantly provides.  Now, if we can get the immigration process map for each year, going back to 1880, and compare against the empirical results we could understand the effectiveness of immigration legislation.  Perhaps I'm dreaming again.


A bar graph is a bar graph however we create the bar, right?  Well I can't help but think about the people in each jobs sector when looking at this interactive jobs visualization, and it has to do with the little cartoon people constituting each bar.  Details like this, and that it tracks its hashtag #workinginamerica in real-time across the bottom, are key concepts behind a great interactive visualization.  Rather than spending all of our time remembering the raw facts, the visualization encourages us to ask questions such as, "why are education and health grouped," "why is hospitality outpacing manufacturing," and "what happened between 1971 to 1991 that raised employment of ages 16-34 above 35-54?"  The answer to the last question is likely Baby Boomers, but isn't it fun to confirm our suspicions!