Assignment 1

Example of Bad Visualization

Source "When Government Fails," The Economist Sep 13th 2005.

This picture is showing the flooded areas of New Orleans caused from hurricane Katrina and the percent of “non-white” population in these effected areas. The picture is trying to demonstrate the reason for the slow disaster response to the region may be because of the high percent of “non-white” population in this area.

This picture lacks clarity due to the choice of colors and texture. The blue color of the flood water and the green shades of the population density are too closely related and they become difficult to distinguish. It would have been easier to visualize as well if there were fewer groups of population densities. Also, the different levels of population density are difficult to see because the green shades are too closely related. The picture also fails to help with the author’s claim that one of the reasons this area was not responded to quickly was because the high population of non-whites. The author could have shown another region of the city affected by the storm where residents were able to evacuate and received disaster relief more quickly.

Example of Good Visualization

Source "Global Consequences of Land Use," Foley, Jonathan A. et al.Science 2005 309: 570-574

This visualization shows the transition model for different stages in land use for a society over time. The authors suggest that although societies may move through the stages in different time periods, all societies will move through these stages.

This visualization shows a clear relationship between time and land use of a society. The colors are distinct and enable the viewer to quickly visualize this relationship. The labels on the axis are clear and each stage in the land use is clearly marked with a dotted line. This picture clarifies the author’s viewpoint on land use. Also, the visualization is easy to understand and intuitive, you do not have to read the text to understand the model of land use.