I’m currently attending a program called Escape the City which “helps mainstream professionals make proactive & entrepreneurial career changes.” We’re part of the “Founding Members” cohort as the first iteration of this program stateside.
I’m not looking to leave my current job, which I’m pretty happy with. I definitely did want to meet other ambitious people and unconventional thinkers. A mentor who had done the program in London, where Escape started, said I’d benefit. I have been loving it so far. I’ve found it beneficial to being more present, proactive, and creative at work and outside of it.
One of part of the program we did last night was the Un-Conference, where individuals in the program presented on different topics: everything from Learnings from Training for Endurance Races, Self-Acceptance and How to Love Yourself, Web Development 101, Relaxation with Origami, to name just a few.
As part of building on my knowledge and sharing it, I did a talk on Simple Design with a Data Visualization Crash Course below. I hope my fellow participants found it useful, especially since many of them are thinking about starting and pitching their own businesses.
Chapter 5 Visual Perception and Graphical Communication
“Built into visual perception is the assumption that the light is coming from above.” Our real-life perception of everyday objects influence how we interpret graphics, in this case how shapes are “lit” p 62
There is iconic memory that relates to pre attentive processing in visuals, the fast recognition of color hues in text. It is important to think of iconic memory when quickly making groups distinctive and highlighting objects p 66
Working memory is temporary and has limited storage capacity, only three or four chunks can be stored at one time. Think of how you structure tables and graphs – if you have ten different symbols, the reader won’t be able to process it p 67
“Designers speak of objects as having affordances- characteristics that reveal how they’re supposed to be used and make them easy to use in those ways. A teapot has a handle. A door that you need to push has a push-plate. The design of an object should, in and of itself suggest how the object should be used.” p 5
Don’t forget about reference lines p 6
Tables and graphs in quant biz data have four uses: analyzing, communicating, monitoring, planning, be cognizant of what you’re working on and the goal p 10
Pair small multiples with other information, e.g. a map to give more context – example of a map of socal and 3d view of pollutants p 42
“Indeed, in modern scientific literature, about 40 percent of published graphics have a relational form, with two or more variables (none of which are latitude, longitude, or time. This is no accident, since the relational graphic- in its barest form, the scatterplot and its variants- is the greats of all graphical designs. It links at least two variables, encouraging and even imploring the viewer to assess the possible causal relationship between the plotted variables” p 47
“Graphical excellence is that which gives to the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space. Graphical excellence is always multivariate. And graphic excellence requires telling the truth about the data” p 51 (example of Minard’s graphic of the fate of Napoleon’s Army)
Repulsion: nodes pushing away from each other. Defined using .charge()
Canvas Gravity: nodes pulled toward layout center to keep interplay of forces from pushing them out of sight. Defined using .gravity()
Attraction: Nodes that are connected to each other are pulled toward each other. Sometimes, this force is based on the strength of connection, so that more strongly connected nodes are closer. Defined using .linkDistance() and .linkStrength() p 186
Reading and Learning Data Visualization Theoretically/Critically:
“Graphics reveal data. Indeed graphics can be more precise and revealing than conventional statistical computations” p 13
Don’t underestimate the use of comparative choropleths with existing knowledge to solve issues – eg examples of cancer clusters around certain geographic industries p19
But of course look for flaws “regional clustering seen on the maps, as well as some of the hot spots, may reflect varying diagnostic customs and fads along with actual differences in cancer rates between areas” p 20. Maps and other visuals can be so straightfoward people don’t question more complex underlying issues.