Questioning Data Visualization Inferences

Lawrence Lessig quotes

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with data visualization. One one side I love seeing patterns that I otherwise would not have been able to see without some sort of visual exploration with data. On the other side of the spectrum is beautiful lines, graphs and illustrations that don’t really help show anything new, but gets lots of interest because it looks cool. Until now I’ve never really considered that when I see a helpful pattern, it might not be exactly what I’m seeing. There’s a full Interview with Lawrence Lessig on government transparency from CBC Spark. While I don’t buy his total argument that more transparency can lead to more cynicism, it’s worth a listen because he makes an argument for how data is being used, and perhaps not entirely with subjective filtering. The interview itself is part of a larger conversation that started in an article from the New Republic titled Against Transparency, The perils of openness in government. It’s worth the read even if you don’t agree with the premise. And for extra credit there’s The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution by Peter Biddle, Paul England, Marcus Peinado, and Bryan Willman…

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