Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Best and Worst Graphing Techniques

We've talked before about Edward Tufte's work to improve the visual display of quantitative information. Now here's another site, the Gallery of Data Visualization, with a Best and Worst gallery for graphs.

With all the wonderful bells and whistles of new technology and tools to make data display more exciting, we might get so caught up in the display options that we forget to make sure we don't turn our data into lies.

Michael Friendly put this page together, and it's really quite interesting.

The good graphs he highlights come in five sections:

The not-so-good stuff gets categorized as well:

He also provides sections on Milestones in the History of Thematic Cartography, Statistical Graphics and Data Visualization and Timelines and Visual Histories.

Here's how he describes what he's trying to do. (Please click through for the all-time best [which is available in poster size here] and worst ... I think you'll enjoy it.)

This Gallery of Data Visualization displays some examples of the Best and Worst of Statistical Graphics, with the view that the contrast may be useful, inform current practice, and provide some pointers to both historical and current work. We go from what is arguably the best statistical graphic ever drawn, to the current record-holder for the worst.

  • Like good writing, good graphical displays of data communicate ideas with clarity, precision, and efficiency.
  • Like poor writing, bad graphical displays distort or obscure the data, make it harder to understand or compare, or otherwise thwart the communicative effect which the graph should convey.

Happy graphing!


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