Viz Reflection Week 2

Update History:

  1. 2017-01-28 /First draft/

Good Viz think: Telling Stories Or Solving Problems?

Welcome to the Viz Reflection series, this is the issue 2, today what I am talking about is a blog article. I am a RSS reader and followed many data visualization related smart guys, yesterday I red a blog from Enrico Bertini, who is a professor of NYU. His thought inspiring me a new idea I ignored for a long time: we are so familiar with story telling of a data visualization, because there are so many data journalists from NYTimes or other big presses, but how about the other function a real good viz should have: problem solving.

Here it is, the article talking about the GovTech data science team from Singapore helped city to find out the reason of a spate of disruptions in recent months.


His thinking is about the current viz community, why we can rare read something about problem-solving visualization? It’s because of little designer did this kind of work, or we didn’t noticed and ignored them?

My answer will be the first one, we can even find this trend from our class, with no offense, the class include me of course. we have the job to find the viz to analyze, deconstruct and learn, for most of beginners, we are addicted by the fancy charts with beautiful cool animation, we always thought wow this is a professional one, it’s so naive I am, this article punched my face and make me clear, what I should do first to learn from a beginner to a professional viz designer is thinking, I am too lazy to stop and thinking, face to the overspread story telling and narrative visualizations from data journalism, I need to chill out to focus on the problem solving direction.

Here is another example: As we learned from the course, there is a very very good visualization project we can check from , called Visualizing MBTA Data. it also showed us a fancy viz to show the metro lines relationship, after I read the classic book of statistical graphics The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, I realized the MBTA chart is the modern one of the Marey Chart in 1983 which used for visualizing Time, Location and Direction.

As a data visualization designer, we should ask ourselves, the fancy viz is really needed? Did I do something can make a little change of this society? This is what I learned in this week: The Visualization Thinking.