News and Notes from PolicyViz - Issue #9

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News and Notes from PolicyViz - Issue #9
By Jon • Issue #9 • View online
Welcome Back to the New PolicyViz newsletter!

The Spiral
Happy New Year! I hope you and your families are well, healthy, and happy heading into 2022.
I won’t belabor it because you’ve surely seen enough discussion of The Spiral this past week on dataviz-social media. If not, this spiral graph from the op-ed section of the New York Times was published last Thursday and was roundly and loudly ridiculed on social media.
New York Times "spiral" chart
New York Times "spiral" chart
Critics said there was “no reason to make the graph a spiral” and that it was the “most unhelpful graph I have ever seen.” There was a lot of debate about it–was it unnecessarily complex? Why not just show it as a line or area chart? Why is the NYT trying to be cute? On and on and on….
Personally, I like it. It’s different. It’s engaging. And it’s not a line or area chart, which we’ve seen countless times over the course of the pandemic. Remember, the audience is the most important thing when it comes to data visualization–who is reading the op-ed section of the Times and what are they trying to get out of this article?
The fact that people were discussing this static graph for days seems to justify the decision to include it in the newspaper at all! Even if you didn’t like it or immediately understand it, you probably went out of your way to take a look!
I did a quick little discussion about it on my YouTube channel, which you can watch below or over on YouTube directly. But that’s enough on it for now.
Until next time,
Jon
The NYT Spiral Graph
The NYT Spiral Graph
Podcast Episode #209: The Flerlage Twins
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