You are on page 1of 72

Frontiers  of  

Computational  Journalism
Columbia Journalism School
Week 7: Visualization
October 23, 2015

CS

Data

Reporting

CS

Data

CS

CS

CS

Reporting

CS

Data

CS

Effects

Filtering

CS

Reporting

visualization  most  commonly  
here

User

Topic  links  in  Gödel,  Escher,  Bach

“Visualization  allows  people  to  offload  cognition  to  the  
perceptual  system,  using  carefully  designed  images  as  a  
form  of  external  memory.  
 
The  human  visual  system  is  a  very  high-­‐‑bandwidth  
channel  to  the  brain,  with  a  significant  amount  of  
processing  occurring  in  parallel  and  at  the  pre-­‐‑conscious  
level.”  
 
 -­‐‑  Tamara  Munzner

Pop-out effects

Visual  Comparisons
length

size

orientation

color

...plus  number,  shape,  relative  motion,  and  much  more

Basic  idea  of  visualization:
Turn  something  you  want  to  find  
into  something  you  can  see    
without  thinking  about  it

clusters

outliers

extents

correlations

Editorial  choice  in  visualization
•  Data
o  what data is chosen, what omitted, which sources

•  Visual representation
o  encoding from data to picture

•  Annotations
o  highlighting, text, notes

•  Interactivity
o  order of presentation, what user can alter

Designing  Visualizations

Some  basic  principles
•  Visual hierarchy
•  Color
•  Typography
•  Whitespace
•  Sketching

Visual  Hierarchy

First  rule  of  color:
Use only 2 or 3 colors

Use  color  to  show  meaning
It's not just decoration

Argentina      Germany        GOAL!

First  rule  of  typography:
Keep  it  simple
you have a better idea
Helvetica or Arial unless
But font size is an important element of visual
hierarchy

Whitespace
Use empty space as a design element

Visual  Metaphor

Images can mean something

Sketching
The way to make a good visualization is to try lots of
ideas quickly.

Draw  the  user  in  
User  won‘t  explore  deeply  if  they  don’t  learn  something  
immediately.    
 
What  does  the  user  learn  in  
–  1  second    
–  5  seconds    
–  1  minute    
–  5  minutes    

Near  and  far  view

远近观  Near  and  Far  view    

远观:宏观情况 Far  view:  big  picture  

近观:个⼈人化故事    Near  view:  personal  story  

Misleading  visualizations

Visualization  isn’t  “objective,”  but  that  doesn’t  mean  you  can’t  mislead.  
(Is  this  graph  misleading?)

Another  misleading  graph.

Interaction  Design

How does the
user know what
to do? Tell
them!

How  do  you  know  if  your  design  is  
good?

Usability  tesDng    
Metrics  tell  you  if  there  is  a  problem,  but  they  don‘t  tell  you  
why.      
 
There  is  no  subsDtute  for  watching  your  users  interact  with  your  
work.    
 
Basic  technique  is  “think  aloud.”  Ask  the  user  to  say  what  they  
are  thinking  while  they  use  your story.    

Visualizing  big  data:  
Don'ʹt  show  all  the  data
 

Don'ʹt  show  all  the  data
1.  Filter: do not display all objects

Don'ʹt  show  all  the  data
1.  Filter: do not display all objects
2.  Summarize: combine multiple objects

Don'ʹt  show  all  the  data
1.  Filter: do not display all objects
2.  Summarize: combine multiple objects
3.  Categorize: replace groups of similar objects with
concepts