Against storytelling: We need Data Explorers to make sense of Open Data.

Yeah, the title is provocative.

Of course, I have nothing against storytelling with data: it’s a great way to prove points and impact opinions. Experts in the data space proved how storytelling can be crucial when working with data: check out the great work by Cole Nussbaumer, or have a look at most of the visualizations published by Andy Kriebel.

However, as storytelling is usually widely celebrated, here I want to put a spotlight on the other face of the #DataViz coin: Exploration.

Explorative data visualizations are interfaces that allow users to ask questions to a dataset, and find their answers. They embody the concept of “Guided Analytics”, and are usually found in the form of dashboards of interactive and inter-related charts and controls.
As we strive for a more transparent, informed and data-driven society, I genuinely think exploratory data visualizations can be as powerful as storytelling.

In fact, because they don’t aim to change opinions, they empower people with visual instruments to check what’s going on themselves. Thanks to Data Explorers, people can make sense out of data when they are complex and – yes – big.

Toy Explorer-256x256.png

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#ReViz: FT’s new map for visualizing US elections

On Tuesday, the world wake up with a new POTUS, and the media were filled with data visualizations of the result. An electoral dataviz that never gets old is the “choropleth map”, like the one below:


However, despite popularity and ease of interpretation, this map can be told inaccurate for a very simple reason: it suggests to the eye a disproportioned result, based on State’s areas, not actual votes.

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