Data Visualization

The Wave & the Tree

We are thinking and talking about the COVID-19 models all wrong, writes Kevin Schulman on The Agitator, a normally smart blog on non-profit fundraising. “Most believe these models represent attempts at prediction rather than as a managerial, scenario planning tool for which they are intended,” he argues — as if believing a model is a “managerial, scenario planning tool” would make it any more accessible.…


Humanity is conducting some gigantic experiments right now — and the biggest might be in how we’re communicating the science of this virus and how to stop it. #Flattenthecurve is the meme, the brand, the call-to-action rolled into one. The universal visual (CDC version, as published in WIRED):

The meme seems to be working, for a lot of people and leaders; we can’t really measure its effectiveness.…

Accuracy Isn’t Everything

There’s no “right” way to communicate research (although there are plenty of ineffective ways). There are only tradeoffs between accuracy on the one hand and precision, relevance and impact on the other.

Pretending those tradeoffs don’t exist — or not being crystal clear about which is more important for the goals you want to achieve — is an excellent way to make your expertise invisible, or visible for the wrong reasons.…

You Are a Chart

What’s the most important thing about how you communicate your research and expertise?

If it’s too early in the morning for such a big question, look at what the Apple data visualization engineer Elijah Meeks — executive director of the Data Visualization Society — says should be the most important thing about a chart, one of the fundamental units of research communication:

The most important thing about a chart is not its aesthetics, the technology used to create it, the kind of data visualization layout or even the data it represents.