Visualization Failures

Stephanie Evergreen talks about two specific instances of self-inflicted visualization failure:

There’s a solid argument to be made that the scales in these charts shouldn’tstart at zero because we wouldn’t see any difference between the two years; all the lines would look flat. But there’s also a solid reason why they should start at zero—maybe I’m exaggerating the change if I don’t. Only the people who work closely with this data would know what kind of scale would fit best given the context of this foundation.

However, people on social media took notice of what they thought was a failure of mine and one commenter tweeted that “there’s no way [a dataviz Godfather] would approve this visual.” So, I got up the guts and sent the whole thing to the Godfather himself.

The Godfather wrote back: “To be honest, almost everything about your redesign is deceitful.” Ouch. I may have actually shed tears over this one. I was devastated.

There’s a good reminder here that failure is a critical part of learning.

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