Daily Archives: October 26, 2010

Speaking of graphics…

I got this email the other day:

the open data kit team is in dire need of a logo and we need your help. if you know a designer (or are a designer) looking to contribute to a growing open source project, now is your chance!

before you get started, we have three rules.

  • go big! although the core team works on healthcare in africa, odk is a much broader project. try to stay away from global development or health themes, but feel free to play off the words and ideas in the project name.
  • think unified! we build a lot of tools (collect, aggregate, build, voice, clinic, etc), so a brand that could be used across all of them would be great. for example, most of the adobe creative suite applications use the same basic theme. see them at http://goo.gl/1HYP.
  • be inspired! if you’ve never designed a logo, http://goo.gl/2KBy has some great ideas to help you get started. that site also has links to an amazing array of examples.
  • our goal is to have a couple of logos that we can pick from, so spread the word and send in a few! the deadline for the competition is november 1 at midnight. send your attempts to yano@gmail.com.

    thanks for helping make odk a more visually pleasing project,


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Filed under global health

Election Season Infographics

I’ve seen a lot of visual display of quantitative information in the news lately, and I like that. But I’ve seen a lot of ink used for more style than substance, and that bugs me, especially when the point is stronger with more substance.

In Exhibit A, I draw your attention to the graphic from last week’s NYTimes front page article Top Corporations Aid U.S. Chamber of Commerce Campaign. The graphic on the web differs slightly from online, but both obscure the point: conservative groups are drastically outspending their rivals in the current election cycle.

A casual observer might miss this though, because of the stylish way the data is represented as red and blue squares, each standing on edge. The artfully arbitrary spacing between the overlapping squares makes it even harder to interpret.

Here’s my remix:

With a pro designer to work this over, the NYTimes could have a sexy front page infographic that’s meaningful, too. Look at that: among the top ten organizations, conservative spending is two times liberal. And if you pull out the “party spenders”, i.e. NRCC, NRSC, DCCC, DSCC, then conservatives are spending five times more. A picture is worth a large number of words, but we should still make them mean something.

I have another remix to share… actually, this is the one that got me to make some graphs of my own. Seeing misleading areas in print once a week, that I can stand, but when I was reading up on Washington State’s “Tax the Ultra-Rich” ballot initiative and I saw it again this morning… well, you’re reading the results.

Behold Exhibit B:

In this case, there is no pretense that the pyramid slabs mean something about the number of returns that they represent. They’re not even separate slabs, take a look at the top. This pyramid is metaphorical, and it does have a nice color scheme.

But why not make an actual plot? Again, if you get a professional designer to work it over, it can have nice fonts and margins and all, but doesn’t my remix below get the point across better?

Here’s some code if you want to remix my remix.


Filed under statistics