Writing about viz
In March 2017, Case & Deaton's paper Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century was published by the Brookings Institute. I got into a conversation on slack with some data viz friends about one of the images in the appendix where I was frustrated that the paper's authors had chosen a dual y-axis chart in which the two axis had different scales and different bases. I found this misleading. As a result, I found comparable data from the CDC and created a set of charts using the exact same data but different chart parameters, which I wrote about in Part I.
Part II, "Why a Dual Y-Axis Chart is Not a Normalized Delta Chart", is my response to a friend's follow up question.
In content this set of essays is about dual y-axis charts. However, it's also shows the value of both in having a critical, iterative, conversation and in creating charts with real data as part of that conversation. I gained a much deeper understanding of the nuance of these issues by iterating on the charts and in the back-and-forth conversation. Cheers to both creating and questioning!
In spring 2016, there was a bit of a debate sparked about whether "scrollytelling" or "steppers" is best. Like the “which visualization is best” and the “are pie charts really evil” debates, the question of "is scrollytelling or steppers best" doesn't really make sense to me. It’s like asking “which is the best tool: a hammer or a wrench?” There is no way to answer that question unless you know what the person is trying to do.
I wrote the article Why Choose? Scrollytelling & Steppers to explore why scrollytelling seems to work well, when steppers work well, and also to showcase a number of examples that take advantage of both techniques in some way.
In Spring of 2016 I collaborated with the team at Stamen on "Atlas of Emotions." One of the key challenges in this project was creating charts that gave both an immediate sense of an emotion and the intensity of that emotion. In The Shapes of Emotions, I share some of the visual effects that helped give this intuitive sense of an emotion, the ways I addressed various challenges, and what we learned in the process.
"As a child, I dreamed of being a National Geographic photographer. What could be better than going exploring to find just the right perspective to help everyone appreciate and better understand this amazing world we call home. I never expected that I would partially realize this dream in a completely different way. Instead of a camera’s lens, my tools included code, design, maps, and data. My first project with Stamen was creating an interactive page where users would compare and contrast maps showing various types of human impact across the Amazon Basin...."
- Read more in Exploring the Amazon with Code and Data