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The stories behind the graphs
December 17, 2011 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Graphic designer Amanda Cox (previously) talks about the crossroads of journalism, design, information, and illustration and how it all comes together in data visualizations for The New York Times.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (5 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
She gave an example of a helicopter illustration that was so detailed it appeared to show every bolt and you could just about build your own just based on the illustration.

I agree with her point that you need to ask how much detail should you show in these illustrations.

But if you ask this question in this particular case, she and I come up with different answers. For the technically minded, having such a detailed drawing is a lot of fun and draws such readers into the article.

In other words, she sees such a drawing and says "what a waste of detail", whereas I say "Oh wow, cool!"
posted by eye of newt at 11:46 AM on December 17, 2011


She is looking at it from a different angle, i.e. what elements help convey the story and/or information.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:36 PM on December 17, 2011


For the technically minded, having such a detailed drawing is a lot of fun and draws such readers into the article.

Tufte might call such embellishments "chart-junk", and, for my own part, to the extent that judicious simplification of an abstraction focuses the reader's attention on the actual information and the larger narrative, I try to follow this guidance when making scientific figures in my work. There's little room for cruft in visually dense informatics, whether it is a schematic, subway map, network graph, etc. And not just aesthetically, but functionally, as well.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:11 PM on December 17, 2011


"There's little room for cruft in visually dense informatics"

But perhaps, on an interactive illo/dia (illodia?) there is room for a more cruft, please button.
posted by bz at 7:53 PM on December 17, 2011


If you're interested in interactive graphs the Guardian's Mariana Santos did a talk at OpenTech 2011 (audio - it's the middle one of three speakers). The Guardian's interactive charts are collected here.
posted by robertc at 3:27 AM on December 18, 2011


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