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A TRUTHFUL ART What I didn’t know about infographics ten years ago – and I

A TRUTHFUL ART

What I didn’t know about infographics ten years ago – and I should have

Alberto Cairo, School of Communication, University of Miami

http://www.nytimes.com/ interactive/2013/12/20/sunday- review/dialect-quiz-map.html Our work is going mainstream: It’s

Our work is going mainstream:

It’s becoming popular because it’s persuasive, informative, and fun

We have the responsibility of getting things as correctly as possible

SHIT I DID A DECADE AGO BUT SHOULDN’T HAVE

here we go…

What I did

Choosing forms to represent data based just on how cool they looked

!

What I should have known

Visualization has certain (flexible) rules based on how the eyes and the brain work

How Music Preferences Have Changed in Two Decades

Music styles preferred by University of Miami students. Survey based on interviews with 1,000 students. SOURCE: WishfulThinkingData Inc.

1994

Classic

Country

5% 5% 10% 35% 20% 25%
5%
5%
10%
35%
20%
25%

Samba

Hard Rock

Reggae

Hip-Hop

2014

Classic

Country

Samba
Samba

Hard Rock

Reggae

Hip-Hop

How Music Preferences Have Changed in Two Decades

Music styles preferred by University of Miami students. Survey based on interviews with 1,000 students. SOURCE: WishfulThinkingData Inc.

1994 2014 40% Hard Rock
1994
2014
40%
Hard Rock

30

20

10

0

students. SOURCE: WishfulThinkingData Inc. 1994 2014 40% Hard Rock 30 20 10 0 Samba Hip-Hop Reggaeton
students. SOURCE: WishfulThinkingData Inc. 1994 2014 40% Hard Rock 30 20 10 0 Samba Hip-Hop Reggaeton
students. SOURCE: WishfulThinkingData Inc. 1994 2014 40% Hard Rock 30 20 10 0 Samba Hip-Hop Reggaeton

Samba

Hip-Hop

Reggaeton

Country

Classic

What I did

Receiving data from a source and rushing to design an infographic

!

What I should have known

Always read the documentation carefully, analyze the data, and consult with other sources

What I did

Thinking that readers dislike complexity and only want to see the simplest graphics

!

What I should have known

Infographics aren’t about simplification, but about clarification

Less regulation = More Industry Investment

Less regulation = More Industry Investment $56 billion After regulations were relaxed Following 1992 Cable Regulations

$56 billion

After regulations were relaxed

Following 1992 Cable Regulations $14 billion
Following
1992 Cable
Regulations
$14 billion

1993-1996

1999-2003

Less regulation = More Industry Investment

$56 billion

After regulations were relaxed

Following 1992 Cable Regulations $14 billion
Following
1992 Cable
Regulations
$14 billion

1993-1996

1999-2003

Cable Industry Infrastructure Expenditures

In billions

$16 Cable Television Consumer Protection $12 and Competition Act (“Regulation”) $8 Telecommunications Act is
$16
Cable Television
Consumer Protection
$12
and Competition Act
(“Regulation”)
$8
Telecommunications
Act
is passed
$4
(“Deregulation”)
$16
1990
92
96
98
00
02
04
06
08
10
2013

What I did

Choosing the data that better fitted a preconceived headline

!

What I should have known

Your data should lead to your headline, not the other way around

What I did

Assuming that data is precise

!

What I should have known

Data is always noisy and uncertain

What I did

Assuming that two things were related just because they varied together

!

What I should have known

Correlation doesn’t imply causation

The “Sports Illustrated” jinx

The “Sports Illustrated” jinx
The “Sports Illustrated” jinx
The “Sports Illustrated” jinx

The “Sports Illustrated” jinx

The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the cover of
The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the cover of
The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the cover of
The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the cover of

Performance

The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the cover of
The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the cover of

Athlete 1

Athlete 2

Athlete 3

Time Made the cover of Sports Illustrated

The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the cover of
The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the cover of
The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the cover of

The “Sports Illustrated” jinx

Regression to the mean

The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Regression to the mean Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time
The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Regression to the mean Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time
The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Regression to the mean Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time
The “Sports Illustrated” jinx Regression to the mean Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time

Performance

Illustrated” jinx Regression to the mean Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the
Illustrated” jinx Regression to the mean Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the

Athlete 1

Athlete 2

Athlete 3

Time Made the cover of Sports Illustrated

jinx Regression to the mean Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the cover
jinx Regression to the mean Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the cover
jinx Regression to the mean Performance Athlete 1 Athlete 2 Athlete 3 Time Made the cover
New England Journal of Medicine

New England Journal of Medicine

The Journal of Nutrition:

“Does Chocolate Consumption Really Boost Nobel Award Chances? The Peril of Over-Interpreting Correlations in Health Studies”

Chocolate Consumption Really Boost Nobel Award Chances? The Peril of Over-Interpreting Correlations in Health Studies”

How I stopped doing shit I should never have done in the first place

alberto.cairo@gmail.com @albertocairo School of Communication, University of Miami

@albertocairo

School of Communication, University of Miami