Alberto Cairo is a former professor at Chapel Hill, where he taught online graphics. Before that he was the succesful graphics director at El Mundo Online. In short: This guy knows what he is talking about, when it comes to both printed and online graphics …
Today Alberto took a critical look at the current data-visualization-trend, which got a huge boost last year, when New York Times took home a gold medal and even the ‘Best of Show’-award for a certain Box Office graphic. Regular readers of this site will remember the discussion we had last year after the awards. Click here to read it again.
Emperor’s new clothes
What Alberto is saying out in the open now, has been floating around for a while. But apparently only a few dare to say that graphics are getting too complicated – for fear of being looked upon as stupid, if they dare challenge such abstract wonders. I can’t help to think of the Emperor’s new clothes, whenever such a situation takes place.
Article in the Malofiej Book
Afterwards Alberto told me, that he has written a somewhat provocative article in this years edition of the Malofiej Book, where he will give even more examples about the dangers of data-visualization. And like he says – it’s not personal taste – it is science, cognitive psychology, that tells us that the brain can’t handle overly complex graphics with no context. The Malofiej Book will be presented wednesday evening at the opening reception of the Malofiej Summit – watch this space.
Hopefully we’re just about to bring the discussion out in the open now. I’ve met a lot of people already here in Pamplona who are voicing concern about the data-driven charts, so the debate could end up lively, if people have got the guts to start talking to each other with an open mind about this topic.