Monday, June 22, 2009

Climate Change and Information Design

A great entry on RealClimate, titled Curve Manipulation Lesson 2, shows the importance of proper charting techniques. I particularly like the postscript:

p.s. Beck appeared on German TV last Monday, after the “Swindle” film was shown, and he is announced to appear on the program “Report M√ľnchen” in the first channel of public German TV next Monday (18 June), to educate the viewers about another of his fantasy graphs, namely his CO2 curve. It promises to be a must-see for friends of the unintentionally farcical.

Edward Tufte refers to this as “graphical integrity” and it is one of the basics in his classic The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. I share ET’s passion for getting this stuff right because it matters and:

  • Done right, it can illuminate information and greatly improve communication by making complex ideas clear
  • Done wrong, it can obfuscate data and confuse or alienate people from otherwise good ideas

Good data display counts.

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