Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Tableau on Tour - Day Two

Tim Harford - (Mis)Information is Beautiful keynote

- If you are a data visualisation guru you will have come across the Florence Nightingale story of visualisation many times. An innovative visualiser but she was still arguing a point and hence she used a coxcomb diagram.

- Florence had the dubious honour of creating one of the first infographics. Tim did point out she saved '000s of people but still... Have a read of wtfviz.net - you'll thank Tim for pointing it out.

- Misinformation is an issue in infographics. Height used for icons, forgets to work out the area implications.

- Here is the link to Tim's reference to Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=3167. A quick reference as to why info graphics have to be treated with care.

- Tim showed the example of the New York subway lines inequality line. Here is the London equivalent for house prices - http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/interactive-map-of-london-underground-shows-how-capitals-house-prices-stack-up-9106901.html

- Tim played Debtris by Information is Beautiful - Debtris (UK version) - YouTube. He then pulls apart some of the "costs" referenced by McCandless. Not coming apples with apples. Visualisation is becoming easy but... "You don't have to think, but I recommend it. Pro tip"

- Tim highlights it's not enough to be beautiful, it has to be sound work. He understand when someone 'smooth talks' us without substance. Not everyone has developed the ability to see the gaps being presented.

- Dazzle camouflage in military shipping is a similar analogy to info graphics.

- Be careful of:
1. People that lie with data
2. People who haven't taken care of how the are visualising
3. People who are not careful of the metrics they use

Matt Francis - Once Upon a Tableau - The How and Why of Story

- 220 slides (seriously!) of hilarity!

- Tableau Public is a great learning resource - download something that makes you go woah and you can download it to learn how it was done.

- Stories are important because they are: more Memorable, Impactful and Relatable

- Matt talks about Sequential Art - a way to transmit human experience so why not use Sequential Data Visualisation

- Data viz should be unbiased and neutral (I'd say can it be?). Data stories lead a reader in a certain direction. You are influencing through a guided tour

- You need to:
1. Consider your plot - plan out what you are going to do
2. Consider your audience - harks back to Paul Banoub's idea of present to Homer as well as Lisa Simpson

- Matt went through his thinking on creating his:
1. Sunspots visualisation - http://wannabedatarockstar.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/how-sun-controls-weather_21.html
2. The Greatest F1 driver - http://wannabedatarockstar.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/who-is-greatest-f1-driver.html
3. Malaria - the global problem - http://wannabedatarockstar.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/malaria-global-preventable-diesase.html

- "Hit people with the numbers and make it relatable" create an emotional impact, like the use of the school bus in the Malaria viz

- Matt's do's and don'ts:
1. Don't use it for everything. Single dashboards are effective and also multiple dashboards but question whether it is the right choice
2. Don't waste space - "each story point must earn it's place"
3. Do share the right story point - the 'Share' URL you have on your screen is for the point you are on when you click share.


The Final Keynote - Kenneth Cukier (data editor at the Economist)
- http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail is an accessible reference for some of Kenneth's team reference

- Kenneth uses the example of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that is made up (like a lot of the financial indices) are a large number of measures. Changes to all underlying factors can now be visualised in seconds.

- "n=all" before you used to have to sample, now you can use all of the data. Data visualisation allows you to see all of the data and the trends.

- Information growth in digital sources is exponential and it's growth is unlikely to change. Even with this data growth, there is a need to show all of it.

- The use of different visualisation has allowed information never seen as data, suddenly be visualised and insight taken from it.

- By disaggregating data, you can find new uses and ways to look at this information. Fo example, employment data like this: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/06/05/upshot/how-the-recession-reshaped-the-economy-in-255-charts.html?_r=0

- New techniques are still required to tell different and more interesting stories. You have to explore the data without conceived ideas about what you are going to find. Remove Preconceived Notions! Observe first, answer afterwards.

- Kenneth still battles to get the visualisation in to the magazine that depicts the data best vs. what is easily accessible. Has "failed" multiple times with 'innovative' visualisations but hits home runs that shows you need to keep pushing the boundaries.

- The world cup has been a testbed for the media's large dataset visualisations (social media etc)

- Need to be aware of access, ethics, privacy, ownership, "data-ism" (a new alchemy that needs to be treated with care and be cautious). Need to remember the humanity behind the data.

...now off to the London Tableau User Group. Great conference and thank you to all those who made it a special couple of days.


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