Saturday July 22nd 2017

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Data visualizations need to present conclusions rather than artistic masterpieces

I’m a fan of data visualizations, but most people are not. I like to experience data like an art lover experiences abstract art. I enjoy staring at artfully drafted data visualizations like Charles Joseph Minard’s figurative map of the French army’s successive losses during its Russian campaign of 1812 – 1813.

Edward Tufte, Professor Emeritus at Yale University and noted scholar in data visualization, espouses the idea of craftily presenting data in its raw form and letting the audience contemplate its own conclusions. I thought it was a fantastic idea until I tried it on an audience of impatient executives. Data visualizations are for data-minded people — the rest of the world wants to know what the data means. When drafting the presentation of your analytics, make it clear what your analysis concludes.

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