Presenting to Recent Eyes and Ears
I’ve been instructing knowledge visualization on the College of Cincinnati for nearly 8 years now. I’ve taught 33 lessons, with 3 extra this semester and practically 1,700 college students (not counting the scholars from this semester). The profile of the scholars, which shall be necessary to grasp for the subject of this submit, is usually graduate college students pursuing Grasp of Science in Enterprise Analytics or Grasp of Science in Info Know-how, however there are additionally different levels/majors sprinkled in, together with MBA, Finance, Advertising, Arts Administration, Engineering and even Graphic Design (the final 3 being outdoors of the enterprise faculty). There are additionally college students pursuing a certificates in Enterprise Analytics. Many of those college students have some work expertise as effectively. That is sometimes a couple of years of expertise, probably as a guide, or intern or they might be pursuing a level or certificates whereas they work full-time.
Prior to every semester, I evaluation the course content material, particularly the shows, and I modify this content material. Some semesters it’s only a few tweaks, however different occasions there are vital modifications. As I look again, the content material could be very completely different from after I began, however there are additionally many issues which were there for the reason that starting of the course. One of many issues that I’ve all the time included and mentioned within the course materials, even from the start of instructing this course, is Charles Joseph Minard’s visualization of Napoleon’s 1812 March into Russia. Edward Tufte describes this as, « Probably the most effective statistical graphic ever drawn. » and he has promoted and mentioned this himself in his workshops and books.
It will be onerous to think about a course on knowledge visualization that doesn’t embrace no less than a number of the well-known visualizations within the area of knowledge visualization and Minard’s graph has turn into one of the well-known graphs within the area. Or has it?
I’ve to say, I do love Minard’s graph. It’s one of some visualizations that I’ve framed and hanging in my workplace. It additionally ties very effectively to my class content material. I talk about the Tufte’s view after which distinction that with Seth Godin’s view that it is « one of many worst charts ever performed » because it violates his precept of Make a Level in Two Seconds. One of many foremost tenets that I educate in knowledge visualization is to ask « Who’s the viewers? » and « What is the message? » That is one thing I’ve additionally taught for the reason that very starting. Minard’s graphic results in dialogue about this. For a sure viewers, as an example a sure message, it is perhaps « the most effective statistical graphic ever drawn », but when presenting this knowledge to a board room of executives who’re on the lookout for a fast abstract, it is perhaps « one of many worst charts ever performed ». It actually ties issues collectively fairly effectively, so every semester I proceed to show this content material. As well as, I additionally educate this materials in non-public and public workshops. I didn’t preserve depend of this, but it surely’s honest to say that a number of 1000’s of individuals have sat by way of this materials and I do know many others that embrace it of their course content material as effectively. Actually, it is a part of the course curriculum for the info visualization course that I constructed out for Tableau and used, no less than partially, by many professors instructing knowledge visualization in larger schooling.
You may have learn this far and that was numerous arrange, however I feel it is necessary to grasp a bit about my course and the scholars. Here’s what is fascinating to me as an information visualization professor. My college students have by no means seen this chart. I’m instructing two sections of my course proper now, every with roughly 65 college students, and I requested every class individually, « What number of of you will have seen this chart earlier than? » In my Tuesday evening class, I had two individuals increase their hand and in my Saturday class, I had three individuals increase their hand. In whole, there have been solely 5 college students out 130 that had seen Minard’s graphic previous to my class. The numbers had been even smaller after I requested, « What number of of you will have heard of Edward Tufte? », and in final week’s class there was not a single hand raised after I requested the category, « What number of of you will have heard of a slopegraph? ». That is proper, out of ~65 college students, not one in all them had heard of a slopegraph.
As knowledge visualization professionals, we are able to rapidly take as a right what now we have realized and utilized through the years. We assume that everybody has absolutely seen Minard’s graphic or Florence Nightingale’s Rose Diagram. We might imagine to ourselves, absolutely they’ve heard of Stephen Few, Edward Tufte or Hans Rosling. And we would tire of lecturing on subjects such because the preattentive attributes, the usage of shade and colorblindness, avoiding 3D exploding pie charts, or « rehashing » essentially the most well-known knowledge visualizations from historical past. In actuality, we have to step again and contemplate that the overwhelming majority of our viewers haven’t learn Cleveland and McGill or Colin Ware. Most of them haven’t studied the fundamental rules of knowledge visualization. They will not be accustomed to sure chart sorts, like a slopegraph or sparkline, which to us are simply as widespread a time period as a bar chart.
When instructing or presenting these rules, whether or not it’s a formal presentation or workshop, or a dialog to teach individuals in your workplace, it is necessary to grasp that almost all of society doesn’t know what about knowledge visualization. You may have learn books, analysis papers and articles that they haven’t learn. You’ve got attended shows and workshops that they haven’t attended. And you’ve got seemingly been constructing knowledge visualizations for a few years, studying what works and what does not, and making use of it in a real-world utility; data that takes years of expertise to realize.
If you happen to, as an information visualization skilled, are attending a presentation or workshop, chances are you’ll be listening to content material you will have heard 100 occasions earlier than and will have taught your self, however notice that it is seemingly new content material to the individuals round you. Take the chance to take heed to how the presenter is presenting. You would possibly choose up one thing new, probably even one thing which may improve your presentation of that materials.
As a presenter, trainer or educator of this content material, additionally it is necessary to current it as recent content material. Think about going to a live performance corridor to take heed to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony carried out by a Main Symphony Orchestra. Skilled musicians have performed this piece numerous occasions, my first efficiency was in highschool. As a former musician (trumpet participant), I’ve carried out too many weddings to get an correct depend, but it surely’s within the ballpark of 1,000 weddings. The commonest wedding ceremony processional thanks to Princess Diana is Trumpet Voluntary, which I’ve carried out for practically 1,000 brides (and the occasional groom) strolling down the aisle. For sure, I do know the piece. Nonetheless, even when I’m taking part in this piece of music for the one thousand and sixth time, it’s seemingly the primary (and hopefully the final) time that the bride will stroll down that aisle. It is among the most particular moments that somebody can have of their life and they’re going to absolutely keep in mind it.
Don’t lose sight of this as you current, educate and educate individuals on knowledge visualization. What could seem boring and repetitive dialogue to you, is probably going model new and recent content material to nearly all of others. It’s all the time good to refresh and refine your content material, however even when it’s the similar content material that you find yourself presenting again and again, remember the fact that it could very effectively be the primary time your viewers is listening to it.
I hope you discover this info helpful. You probably have any questions be happy to e-mail me at Jeff@DataPlusScience.com
Jeffrey A. Shaffer
Observe on Twitter @HighVizAbility