17 November 2010

Misleading visualisation

Being grumpy here, this visualisation (part of a series in a collaboration by the BBC and the British Library on new media and the evolution of research) is misleading, at least initially. My brain tried to treat it like a graph, with the height of the percentage legend representing the response rates for yes, no, neutral. On second reading I realised that it's the density of the birds and the numbers in the legends that is significant (the heights remain consistent across a series of visualisations for different questions, each showing different response rates). The birds are animated, too, which, yes, is pretty, but distracting and may account for the reader's attention being drawn to the large static percentage legends. (Unfortunately we have no idea of the number (or composition) of  respondents, either. Tut. Tut.)

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