2015 Dataviz Roundup
December 7, 2015 4:48 PM   Subscribe

Information is Beautiful Awards 2015 showcases the best of the year in data visualization, data journalism, and infographics. The first two are particularly striking: Introduction of the Measles Vaccine and A World of Languages
posted by gwint (17 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
Putting Illinois after Iowa alphabetically? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, sir (Though the 2003 spike of cases after distrust in the vaccine first took hold is subtly striking).
posted by persona at 4:58 PM on December 7, 2015


I was noticing that too. Light blue is more than white? Because it dies out kind of raggedly over a few years, but then BANG. Across the board, it's back.
posted by ctmf at 5:28 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thus I learn that te largest language I have never heard of is apparently Lahnda, spoken by 88.7 million people. Neat plots!
posted by puffyn at 5:36 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The State name axis is all screwy. Go down it singing the fifty nifty united states song, some are missing labels, but some line up correctly and others don't, so it's not straight alphabetical either.
posted by ctmf at 5:37 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


persona: "Putting Illinois after Iowa alphabetically?"

I'm guessing this is because IL > IA.
posted by mhum at 5:40 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing this is because IL > IA.

FIB
posted by mcstayinskool at 5:44 PM on December 7, 2015


mhum: I think that's it! Ordered by postal abbreviation, but then not labeled that way.
posted by ctmf at 6:07 PM on December 7, 2015


Data visualization is a hot topic in recent years and I'm here to make a case that it's more than just cute design, or web trends - it's crucial to designing information so that people understand it and can use it.

There is a competitive information environment. If you believe you have something important to say, you better work to make sure that you're saying it in a way that other people can understand - and, as importantly, in a way that other people want to understand it.
posted by entropone at 6:44 PM on December 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


See also the US National Science Foundation's Vizzies.
posted by underflow at 7:20 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ordered by postal abbreviation, but then not labeled that way.

Even worse, the designers opted to not even label every other state. Instead, they rely on rollovers to tell you which state the squares belong to. It's an utter failure in that the graphic is unnecessarily dependent on technology to communicate its data. And it's a damned shame, too, because it really tells a striking story.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:37 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


/r/dataisbeautiful/ is worth adding to your RSS reader.
posted by sidereal at 7:56 PM on December 7, 2015


Is the measles one actually a good visualization though? Even looking at the key it's very difficult to actually draw any conclusions beyond the obvious "measles cases dropped after the vaccine" because the chosen colormap actively hinders any attempt at making quantitative comparisons. And worse, the colormap seems to have been designed to create a dramatic visual cliff-- notice there's a discontinuity in the colormap where it goes straight from dark blue to pale blue for really no justifiable reason.

As for the languages one, it also looks kind of neat I guess, but as far as I can tell the spatial layout doesn't actually convey any information.
posted by Pyry at 8:35 PM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Weird that Austria is randomly missing from the languages info.
posted by maryr at 8:50 PM on December 7, 2015


I was noticing that too. Light blue is more than white? Because it dies out kind of raggedly over a few years, but then BANG. Across the board, it's back.

I was wondering about that. I went to the source site for that graph: link

Apparently white actually means "N/A" whereas many of the blue is very low, sometimes zero cases (per 100k people). So the spike in 2003, although perhaps catalyzed by anti-vaxxers, is maybe not a universal increased in cases but a jump back to more rigorous surveys and more data.
posted by picklenickle at 12:01 AM on December 8, 2015


Is the measles one actually a good visualization though?

It's hilariously bad. Like 90% of the things "Information is beautiful" highlights, it makes the data less clear through misguided attempts to make it pretty.

There's a compelling story in the data but the visualization muddies it. The y-axis labeling has been mentioned, as has the deceptive color scale. There's also nothing in the graph itself (you need to read the description) to see that the colors are cases per 100,000 and not an absolute count of cases. More fundamentally, there's really no reason why each state should be listed separately--the data isn't doing anything along that dimension (at least not sorted in alphabetical order?), it doesn't add any information, it's only there because heatmaps are pretty.

The measles visualization should be simple line graph, even though that wouldn't make a nice poster. I quite enjoy that it was chosen for the gold medal, though, because it captures so perfectly why I love to hate Information is Beautiful. Feeling cranky, smug, and righteously justified in my curiously strong opinions about data visualization is... it's like my favorite thing.
posted by kprincehouse at 12:33 AM on December 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


/r/dataisbeautiful/ is worth adding to your RSS reader.

It is ... but it's also worth renaming to dataarebeautiful.
posted by entropone at 6:53 AM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyone else annoyed the language graphic doesn't spatially arrange languages from the same family to be contiguous or at least close together?
posted by midmarch snowman at 9:09 PM on December 8, 2015


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