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Data Visualization: Clarity or Aesthetics?

It seems like every field has its version of the Hatfields and the McCoys – feuding families that just don’t see eye-to-eye. If this applies to Data Visualization, then surely the battle lines are drawn along the boundary separating clarity and aesthetics. A data visualization (hereafter “creation”) is simply an image conveying a quantitative truth (more complete definition here), and the focus is either to inform, to entertain, or both.

For those solely seeking to entertain (“data artists“), this post won’t really apply to you. For the rest who want to impart some understanding about our world, I’d like to share my two cents about how I think about this debate, including a framework for evaluating creations from both angles – my hope is that it will be useful to you. Read more…