Data visualisation

Element Descriptor

Being able to clearly and fairly show important data in formats which do not distort or deceive (intentionally or otherwise). Not having this means you’re stuck with words, which are sometimes just not gonna work

Level descriptors

NovicePractitionerExpertNinja
You can make basic representations of basic stats/ratios etc using pie charts, bar charts etc, without confusing yourself or anyone elseYou can make advanced representations of complicated data, making it simple without simplifying. You can use a variety of techniques and software packages to achieve this.You can, at the drop of a hat, make a series of visualisations from complex data streams, and make them both understandable but also easily updatable to folks who find Paint challenging.You are constantly on the prowl for/are creating novel forms of representation which don’t fool/detract anyone, and represent complex shifting data faithfully and clearly. Edward Tufte defers to your brilliance.

Element Overview Essay

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As we’ve got with data scraping, the reason data visualisation is often done badly is this is a complex skill, and people pay good money to learn them. So, yes, picking up the basics is good and important. But once you’re going to go beyond novice level, you’re going to need either to spend some money or or hopefully, find someone who’s willing to teach you pro bono.

The consequences of doing data visualisation badly are that you simply don’t get your message across. It doesn’t always have to be as dramatic as the Space Shuttle Challenger. burning up on re entry because the foam pad problem was not well explained a la Edward Tufte. It can be as simple as people reading your blog post, don’t get the point. Because you use a bar chart instead of a pie chart, a bar graph instead of a pie chart where you don’t use anything. You rely on words, when everyone knows that a picture is worth somewhere in the vicinity of 800 to 1200 Words.

The fixes for this are pretty straightforward. Learn some of the basics from people who know better, watch how they do things. Think about how the professionals do it. That doesn’t mean you have to mimic them and build up your skills and have a base repertoire search for the types of information that you are trying to get across. Whether it is how much of a carbon budget is being used up or how long it has been since the council received your freedom of information act or how many of the counsellors on the council belong to one party or how soon it is to the apocalypse.

Development Resources

Assessment Resources