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Shock and precision in visualization

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Comparisons and context are at the core of data visualization. We humans have a hard time grasping large numbers, such as “9 trillion gallons of rain,” so transforming that magnitude into a pictorial illustration may help. Here's a graphic by The Washington Post; it's part of this story:



John Grimwade has a great collection of this kind of side-by-side pictorial comparisons. They surprise and illuminate, but they are quite limited. Sometimes it may be preferable to present data in a more abstract and precise manner, like this (h/t Sam Lillo):


Which graphics are better, the pictorial or the abstract? There is no better. It all depends on what your goals are. The former graphic is shocking, but it doesn't enable any analysis. Its power and its limitations reside in its bluntness. The latter lacks visual punch, but it's rich in detail.

No visualization is ever perfect, useful in every case and for every purpose, so the key to a successful data presentation is often to not limit yourself to just one graph, map or diagram, but to combine different kinds. The shocking ones work as a headline, pulling readers into the narrative by intriguing them; then, the more detailed ones provide some needed context and depth.

(The Washington Post has other graphics stories that are also worth your attention.)

UPDATE: Felix Salmon has just told me about a mistake in the copy of the first graphic. It reads “four miles square” when “four square miles” (the area of the base of the cube, 2*2 = 4) is more accurate. Felix adds: “just to be unambiguous: "four miles square" means a square with four-mile edges, i.e. 16 square miles.” In visualization, words are as important as visuals!

UPDATE 2: The Post has just corrected the graphic (see comment below)
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vitormazzi
23 days ago
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Brasil
luizirber
24 days ago
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Davis, CA
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The Philosophical Duel

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Ironically, it is the best of all possible worlds where most people think The Monadology is stupid.
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vitormazzi
24 days ago
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Brasil
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SCARY GO ROUND for August 28th 2017

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comic



Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad here, right now: $0

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vitormazzi
24 days ago
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Brasil
jepler
24 days ago
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Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
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Photo

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vitormazzi
28 days ago
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Brasil
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1 public comment
MotherHydra
27 days ago
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"I'm sorry, Morty, it's a bummer... in reality you're as dumb as they come...

..and I needed those seeds REAL bad and I had to give them up; just to get your PARENTS off my back. So now we're gonna have to go get more.

And then we're gonna go on even MORE adventures after that, Morty. And you're gonna keep your MOUTH SHUT about it, Morty...

..because the world is full of idiots that don't understand what's important. And they'll TEAR us apart, Morty!!

But if you stick with me, I'm gonna accomplish great things, Morty, and you're gonna be part of 'em.

And together we're gonna run around, Morty, we're gonna... do all kinds of wonderful things, Morty. Just you and me, Morty. The outside world is our enemy, Morty... we're the only.... friends we've got, Morty! It's just Rick and Morty. Rick and Morty and their adventures, Morty.. RICK AND MORTY FOREVER AND FOREVER A HUNDRED YEARS Rick and Morty.. some...things.. Me and Rick and Morty runnin' around and... Rick and Morty time... a- all day long forever.. all a - a hundred days Rick and Morty! forever a hundred times.... OVER and over Rick and Morty... adventures dot com.. W W W dot at Rick and Morty dot com w..w..w... Rick and Morty adventures.. ah- hundred years..... every minute Rick and Morty dot com.... w w w a hundred times... Rick and Morty dot com......."
Space City, USA
Nunnsey
9 days ago
His point is that you are all worthless and the same to him. That is always his point.
MotherHydra
9 days ago
Exactly Nunnsey.
Nunnsey
9 days ago
For a show that people are constantly reading super deep into in terms of meaning and reference, its surprising to see such a distilled summary of it's core character.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Job

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
The annoying thing about political economy textbooks is that the letters only appear when the Black Candle is lit beneath a Blood Moon.

New comic!
Today's News:
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vitormazzi
30 days ago
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Brasil
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1 public comment
jlvanderzwan
29 days ago
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I was born in Ghana and now live in Sweden. Oh, and since my username doesn't make it obvious: my first name is Job.

If there is a god, I feel like he's doing some kind of reverse-psychology mockery of me through this comic.

Democracia sem povo

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Se discute muito 2018. Se Lula (PT) será candidato ou estará preso, se o político de Facebook João Doria (PSDB) vai dar o bote decisivo no padrinho Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB), se Jair Bolsonaro (PSC por enquanto) vai conseguir aumentar seu número de votos com o discurso de extrema-direita, se Marina Silva (Rede), a que não é mais novidade, conseguirá se recuperar. Como o PMDB e o DEM se articularão para continuar no poder. Mas discutimos menos do que deveríamos o que vivemos em 2017, neste exato momento. Agora. Neste momento em que um país inteiro foi transformado em refém. Não como metáfora, não como força de expressão. Refém é o nome do que somos.

Seguir leyendo.





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vitormazzi
30 days ago
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Brasil
luizirber
31 days ago
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Davis, CA
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