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Assignment 1 - 2010-01-24

Good Vis

New York Times article from today, Sunday 2010-01-24, main section, p.15 (front page story), diagram titled "Fatal Radiation: The Case of Scott Jerome-Parks"

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good because

  • Clear depiction of device and how it works without requiring words, but if you're interested in detail you merely look at the upper-left corner (natural for english readers) and see How I.M.R.T. works.
  • When you're wondering "well, how could this have hurt someone?" your eyes likely wander into the differently coloerd section labeled A FATAL ERROR which shows clear diagrams of the part of the machine that is designed to regulate radiation that was not programmed correctly in the cases mentioned in the article.
  • Complicated issues surrounding lengthy article (2.5 full pages) are instantly clarified.

Bad Vis

"Good" Magazine, issue 018, winter 2010, p.24 & 25.

(click image for larger version)

bad because

  • Large spread with small, translucent bar graphs
  • Upper-left text purports the point to be that religious affiliation in the US is shifting, and more people are atheist.
  • The bar graphs are cleverly designed to be the same color as the clothes of the person they are under, hiding them.
  • Each data set is 4 bars, all near the same height.
  • The left two are slightly darker shade that the right two, implying they will contrast.
  • The detail text indicates that the first pair are intended to be contrasting numbers despite being the same color.
  • The second pair are intended to be the same contrast, but in absolute population numbers instead of percentages.
  • Population change could have easily been its own graph, reducing the number of graphs to comprehend by almost half.
  • When looked at as a whole, the graphs *seem* to be scaled relative to each other, but each individual cluster seems arbitrary.
  • "NO RELIGION", the dark-colored chart in the darkly colored upper-right, is hidden despite being the point of the whole page. I think the point is to have the bartender represent this group, but it's not presented visually similarly to the other religious options.
  • The original reason I found it bad: a question (religion) unrelated to the magazine (environmentalism, sustainability) with witty presentation that's actually a ham-fisted attempt at humor (a priest and a rabbi and a bartender and...) with discriminatory undertones (die religion die!).

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