Wednesday, April 20, 2011

CNN: How to make data look sexy

How to make data look sexy

From Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg, for CNN
April 19, 2011 -- Updated 0833 GMT (1633 HKT)

  • Key the making a good graph or chart is to tell a story
  • New techniques in design and web development that make data more engaging
  • Putting emotion into data visualization is not a sin
Editor's note: Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg are 
leaders of Google's 'Big Picture' project and pioneers in data visualization.
(CNN) -- We all know what makes a good graph or chart. It
should be a clear, precise presentation of the data. Right?
That was certainly the conventional wisdom of the 20th
century. Psychologists such as William Cleveland ran experiments
to rank chart attributes such as position, area, angle, and color
by how precisely we perceive them.
Others wrote papers proving that animation was distracting
and unhelpful to comprehension. Edward Tufte proposed
maximizing a "data-to-ink ratio," ushering in an era of
bare-bones chart design.
The single-minded pursuit of clarity and precision led to designs
that were, sure enough, clear and precise. Grid lines receded discreetly into the background; Tufte's beloved beiges and tans became standard recommendations.

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