- [Instructor] Once you get past basic charts and graphs and maps, hopefully, you'll get to the point where you're trying what I'll call lazily, just creative and innovative visualization forms. Now, innovation can be a force for good, certainly, but sometimes, people are trying new things just for innovation's sake, and of course, I'd recommend that you concentrate on the former. Really innovate when you need to to try to find better ways to communicate the data that you have. In this video, I'm just going to share a few examples and partly, it's because you have to master the basics before you start breaking the rules.
But also, because I don't want to overwhelm you with too many things. This is mostly for inspiration purposes. When you are trying to get creative and innovative, of course, you want to be thoughtful about how and when you push those boundaries of the well-established norms. You don't want to reduce the clarity of the data you're explaining. You don't want to confuse people. So, the first example in this category I want to show you is a static infographic. And, in fact, when you look at this one, you'll see it's really actually not innovative, per se. This is a standard chart form.
This is really just a bubble chart, right? So, I have an x-axis, I have a y-axis, I have the size of the bubbles, which, of course, in this case, are flowers to indicate the data. But what I like about this chart and the reason I put it in this particular movie is just that it's very creatively and interestingly done and there are a few things about it that I like. So, first of all, what are we looking at? We're looking at the number of deaths from wars during the 20th century. Really from 1900 or just before 1900 up until 2010. And what you can see is at the bottom of the flower, the stem is the start year of the war and the top of the flower, the bloom, where it ends up to the right, is the year that the war ended.
And so, it has a really evocative, interesting look and feel to show me how long a war lasted. And so, for instance, the Israel versus Palestine conflict has that very long, windswept look, 'cause it started so long ago and of course, is still going on today. There are four variables that we can look at here, the start year, the end year, the number of deaths, and also, the color to indicate the region where the wars occurred. And just the creative use of poppies as the visual metaphor is very evocative and on-topic for this particular data.
The one interesting thing about this data, on the y-axis, you can see that that represents the length of the conflict, which, of course, is also visible in the x because of how far the poppy flows, that windswept effect that I mentioned. So, I would loved to have seen this graphic use, actually, different variable for that axis. But other than that, I really, really like this graphic. So, this is another static infographic that I'm putting into this category of creative and innovative for a few reasons. What this is showing is Nobel Prize winners from 1901 to 2012 and you can see across the left-hand edge, these are the categories of the Nobel Prizes.
Chemistry, economics, physics, et cetera. And what you'll notice is that there's essentially a line chart for each category with dots indicating each winner. And so, each dot is placed on a y-axis above or below the dotted line to indicate whether they're older or younger than the average age winner for that category. If the dot has a little circle around it, that means it's a woman, the other ones are men. And really, though, in the end, even though this is a very innovative and beautiful and very interesting and deeply explorable infographic of quite a bit of data, really, what we're looking at is very standard forms.
Once again, just like the last example. So, we have a line chart across an x and a y-axis. It's also, you could look at it as a time line. We also, in the end over here, where we're looking at degrees, this is showing you what degrees various winners have earned, and we have, essentially, bar charts. Right here, it's easiest to see here in the literature section where I have a bar chart. It's flipped on its side, but that's what it is. Or over on this side, where it shows us which top university winners went to in the various categories.
That's essentially a Sankey diagram, these flow lines indicating how many people from each category went to each of these top universities. It's a really beautiful and interesting and innovative and creative example using, once again, very standard forms. This is another one of my favorite examples. This is a visualization of drone strikes. And as you can see, it starts off with really telling a story. So, if you go back to our defining a narrative movie, it's a great example of how you can set up a very linear, standard storytelling structure.
Then, in this case, it leads right into this first animated and then interactive graphic showing drone strikes. So, once it gets past the initial introduction, it starts showing us one after the other individual drone strikes over time. And the use of this arched line to indicate the strike, very simple idea but it's really evocative and very on-point. You also notice these moments where it pauses and text comes up and tells you a little bit about that moment in time. Some significant event that occurred.
And then, of course, the data that follows that are put in context. So, it's a great way of telling a story, showing you a lot of data, a lot of details, and yet really providing all the context and insights that you might want from this type of information. Once the animation is done, it's now a fully interactive experience that I can engage with. So, I can roll over each one of these and get more information about the details behind each one of these drone strikes. You know, the number of dead, who, what type of person that they were, et cetera.
I can also flip the entire experience on its side and just sort of look at it from a different direction. Get sort of a different view of the numbers. I still have access to the same information in the end, but it's sort of a slightly different perspective on the same idea. This next example is also really interesting. If you just listen for a second. (calming guitar music) What you'll notice is that you have sound in the background and what we're looking at here is live, real time edits to Wikipedia.
And so, every time someone at this exact moment is editing an entry on Wikipedia, this application is throwing a dot on the screen. The dot is related to the size of the edit and the tone that you hear is directly related to the exact same thing. So, in other words, if it's a bigger edit or a smaller edit, then the tone goes up and down accordingly. So, this is a really interesting example of, I guess you could say, data auralization or audiolization, depending on how you want to phrase it.
I don't even know if there's such a word. So, the audio doesn't add new data, new information to this experience, but it adds a level of depth and interest and context that I find really helps the experience overall. This is another example of the use of audio in a data visualization. (cheery tones) As you can hear, as the stock price goes up and down, the notes go up and down. The sound doesn't necessarily add anything new to the information, yet again, but it really is essentially creating a song out of the performance of the stock market.
It's another rich, interesting and innovative experience. So, in this final example, what we're looking at is something called the racial dot map. And what it is is a single dot placed on a map of the United States for every single person in the country as of 2010. This is from the 2010 census. So, when you're zoomed out like this, of course, what you can really see is population density, right? I can very easily see Chicago and Detroit, New York City.
You know, the east coast is extremely densely populated. The mountain west and the desert west are pretty much empty, right? So, it's really fascinating and interesting to look at just at the highest level. But let's say I start zooming in and what happens is these aggregated views of the dots start to break up a little bit. And eventually, if I keep zooming in, I'm going into Boston here, eventually I'm going to end up at a point where I can see every single dot, again, broken down so that I can get to the point where I can see individual dots, like over here, just west of Boston.
And once again, every single dot represents a single person. You'll notice, also, the different colors. Each dot represents a race. So, it's a really interesting look at racial segregation also. It's very easy to see which races live in different neighborhoods in different cities across the country. What's really most innovative about this, though, is the technical achievement. Being able to place 300 million dots onto a map that actually performs in a very reactive, quick way in a browser on the web is quite an achievement.
So, this example belongs in this category, for me, not only because it's really interesting and creative but also quite an innovation in technical achievement. This movie is as much about inspiration as anything else. My advice for when you're thinking about getting innovative and creative is to just think about, really, everything in this course. Figure out the basics first. Think about layering things on top of your basics, like illustrations and metaphors, like the poppies and the arched lines for the drones. Try to start thinking about innovative forms on top of your more basic forms.
Make sure that the creativity and innovation add to the experience and they add to the understanding of your audience. Don't be afraid to try new things. Just make sure that it really helps.
- Describe the process by which individuals’ interests are incorporated into data visualizations.
- Differentiate the use of the Ws in data visualization.
- Explain techniques involved in defining your narrative when visualizing data.
- Identify the factors that make data visualizations relatable to an audience’s interests and needs.
- Review the appropriate use of charts in data visualizations.
- Define the process involved in applying interactivity to data visualizations.