Visualization Critique

As part of the assignment for week 1 of Alberto Cairo’s Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization course, we’re tasked to critique and discuss this graphic.

As I try to recreate the graphic myself, I notice that while inputting the data into a spreadsheet, there’s are several interesting stories that could be told. And of course, depending on what story is intended to be told, that should constrain what graphic tool is used to tell that story.

For me, the most interesting story I see is that across countries, the use of various social media channels varies considerably. For example, micro blogging is much more popular in Brazil than in Canada. In China, a higher percentage of people write their own blogs than manage their social profile. And writing blogs in South Korea and Japan are either the top or second highest social media channel. So it seems there’s a trend in the Asian countries to write and blog more than uploading photos or managing a social profile – the opposite of what we see going on in the Western countries. That’s likely a story in and of itself that just begs for more information. But I think even a simple bar chart would be a more effective tool for this kind of comparison.

I input some of the data from the original graphic into a Google Docs spreadsheet, then pasted that data into Adobe Illustrator’s chart tool. This result still needs a lot of work, from both a data viz perspective as well as a general design perspective. I just wanted to see if this format lent itself better to comparisons. I think this quick exercise shows that a simple bar chart would have been a better choice than the arcs on a global map.

As I said, this quick and dirty graphic that I created still needs a lot of work. This wouldn’t replace the full original infographic. I think more consideration would need to go into the title and introduction. The colors should definitely be changed, but I wanted to keep them the same as the original to reduce the number of variables in comparing the two. Ultimately, I think using a couple of different chart styles like these would be far more effective at communicating the data than the bubbles/arcs in the original.

About Jeff Bennett

Owner & Designer at Digital Splash Media. Multimedia Web Content: Visual Explanations | Animated Explanation Videos | Infographics, Data Visualization, & Diagrams

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