Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Tableau on Tour - Robert Kosara – The Plot Thickens: Using Visualisation to Tell Stories about Data

Whilst judging a Visualisation – a fellow judge described something as ‘Just Visualisation’ and this started Robert thinking about what the levels of understanding include:
1.      Visualisation
2.      Context
3.      Story
New York Times wouldn’t use scatterplots 2 years ago but they are now used routinely as they were found to be understood.
Scatterplots – humans are good at drawing a trendline through a scatterplot but can’t draw the true diagonal line
-        Adding graduated lines to show trend lines at x% change helps the consumer appreciate the trend they are seeing (example from Hannah Fairfield and Graham Roberts at the New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/03/01/business/20090301_WageGap.html?_r=0)
-        Allows the reader to conduct analysis that was previously impossible
The ‘stepper’ in Tableau Storypoints is taken from News Media coverage

The Narrative Arch
1.      Question / Problem
2.      Logical Sequence / Narrative
3.      Conclusion / Resolution
Two key aspects tie together great story telling – Time and Sequencing
Connected Scatterplot with different segments annotated show an interesting way to show sequencing
-        Napoleon’s march by Minard is one of the most famous connected scatterplots
-        If Russia invaded France the chart might not work as well as it would not read as a western story (which we interpret as Left to Right)
Comics imply the way you should read them (like scroll-telling – scroll to reveal the story)
Animated storytelling like Hans Rosling and demographic change is compelling to the audience – showing grouping / hierarchies is an effective way to communicate the points (ie showing variation within regions)
Zeigarnik effect – theory of information only being retained whilst there is no interruption. Not revealing the answer is a way to make something more memorable – ie a cliff-hanger
-        Memory - http://www.amazon.com/Made-Stick-Ideas-Survive-Others/dp/1400064287 book recommendation from Robert
-        The way to pass on knowledge was by telling stories to pass on memories. Facts / memories have to connect together
-        In academic circles – the computer is the memory in analysis but you need to make someone remember the thing you told them if you want them to make a decision from the information you have shared

Robert Kosara will do a separate talk on how to take Media visualisations and build in Tableau at TC15 in Las Vegas – get it in your diaries now!

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