Assignment for Tuesday 2/23

1) Read chapter from the Data Journalism Handbook about understanding data and visualizing data. Also, read the intro and chapter 1 of Alberto Cairo’s The Functional Art. In the comments section of this post, explain what you think Cairo means when he writes that “the first and main goal of any graphic or visualization is to be a tool for your eyes and brain to perceive what lies beyond their natural reach.”

2) Here is Quiz #2. Finish the quiz before Monday 2/22 at 7 p.m.

10 thoughts on “Assignment for Tuesday 2/23”

  1. I think that Cairo meant that we as journalists can use graphics and data sets in order to present/uncover an easier way to understand information. Sometimes if people see graphics and visualizations they can more easily understand what is going on. It can be quicker and more efficient than having to explain something in writing. Visualizations are driven by fact and can go further and more in depth than what readers can infer by themselves.

  2. I believe what Cairo means by this statement is that when using graphics in journalism it provides a visualization for readers to understand the idea of story more in depth. When putting complex data sets in an aesthetically pleasing graphic, the information is easier understood in a shorter amount of time. As well as provides a more creative visual for the brain to recognize and break down easier.

  3. I think Cairo is saying that a clear and concise visualization is what our brains need to quickly and accurately draw conclusions and make sense of otherwise messy information and data. Reading about the fertility rates of numerous countries, even on a spreadsheet, can be daunting. I agree that well organized and visualized informations provides a version of the data that is far easier for our brains to completely comprehend. Then, as journalists, we are free to take the data in any direction we need.

  4. I think what Cairo means is that visualizations help to explain what words cant always breakdown. As “children” we are taught through the tactic of visualization in order to understand and grasp a concept or more clearly and effectively. As we grow older that is still the case, however it is a much less used tactic. Therefore, when we use a visualization it can help to break down heavier topics and make them more clear and easier to understand.

  5. I think Cairo is saying that a good visualization can do what words sometimes can’t, meaning it can more easily break something down and describe it. And I agree. I’d much rather look at a well organized graph or chart than read all the data myself. It makes a story more appealing and sometimes a good graphic can work to bring in additional readers.

  6. I think Cairo is saying that images facilitate the processing of information that would otherwise be clouded by their lack of clarity. But there’s also an additional step to that: they also allow you to go to the next level of understanding as well by easing comprehension. With a combination of ancedotes and data, it is thus easier to understand the entire picture of a situation.

  7. When Cairo says “the first and main goal of any graphic or visualization is to be a tool for your eyes and brain to perceive what lies beyond their natural reach” I think he is meaning that graphic and visualization have a responsibility and the power to go farther than words. They have the ability to grasp new audiences that may not pay attention to the words or the story. They also have the ability to break down more important and complex topics into something that can be more easy to understand. Personally, I couldn’t agree more. Often times I get so tired of reading a story that when there is a graphic or visualization I actually end up spending more time looking at the graphic or visualization than on the actual story. I am sure this is just part of our human need to have things given to us and have things made to be easily understood. But I will say that having a visualization or graphic does have the amazing ability of enticing new readers and keeping old ones.

  8. I like when he mentions, “While aesthetically engaging, it is less emotionally charged.” And I think that idea can help us answer the question. Sometimes by seeing something aesthetically pleasing or easily understandable we are able to more quickly grasp the concept of something that by reading a lengthy, number filled article, we may have never achieved. For me, I have ADD, the real kind, not the kind people pretend to have the night they start studying for the test they have in the morning. So reading is hard sometimes. I like to read, in essence, but if it is something that doesn’t interest me, while other things around me are actively interesting me…I am far less likely to survive the event with the proposed outcome. I would be far more likely, though, if the information was presented in a visually pleasing, graphically organized way. And even then, sometimes I look for something shinier. True attention getters (if that’s a word) & sustainers are infographics that have you answer questions and chose your path, it isn’t likely that I would put one of those down. Now, applying that method to a complex data set would be interesting….but hey, it could be done.

  9. A story can be perfectly written without any visuals or graphics, yet either could possibly help explain something without using up valuable space. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? It can be very helpful to insert a graph if there are too many numbers in the story, as the reader could possibly get confused and mix the numbers up. It would force the reader to backtrack to reread the numbers. Also a picture can help portray a scene in which the writer didn’t have enough space to show. Some readers though won’t read an article that’s very informative without the aid of a visualization.

  10. “The first goal of an infographic is not to be beautiful just for the sake of eye appeal, but, above all, to be understandable first, and beautiful; or to be beautiful thanks to its exquisite functionality.” I agree with Cairo in the sense that graphics, charts, and maps aren’t just tools to be seen, but to be read and scrutinized. I am guilty of falling into the trap of reading an article and becoming distracted with the colors of graphics and tend to overlook the meaning behind the data. However, I understand that graphics, charts, and maps are meant to be looked at in a statistical context. One of the main problems with visual and data journalism is that the infographics have been created within the art department. This can lead to “damaging misunderstandings.” For many journalists, infographics have become mere ornaments to make the page look lighter and more attractive. They are seen as decoration, rather than key information paired with the body text.

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