information design

Ten Challenges to the Use of Data Visualization in Human Rights

In January 2016, my colleagues and I from an interdisciplinary research group at NYU asked a group of human rights researchers and advocates about the challenges they face when using data visualization. Mixing formal interviews with informal discussion, we found that responses revealed a few common themes. Drawn from this modest sample, here are ten questions on the minds of the rights professionals we spoke to, challenges that complicate and impede the use of data visualization in human rights work.

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>  9 February 2016 | LINK | Filed in

What's Wrong with this Picture?

The Ethics Gap in Data Visualization

What do ethics have to do with data visualization? Over the years, researchers and lawyers have come up with some rules and best practices to guide the proper collection and use of data, with particular attention on human subject research. Questions related to the collection of data go to the heart of what constitutes ethical research methods: did the subjects give informed consent for how their personal data would be used? Does using, collecting, or publishing this data put anyone at risk? Is the data appropriately protected or anonymized? The rules continue to evolve, and are not without gray areas and open questions, and many universities have review processes to provide guidance and make sure the critical ethical questions are raised. In fact, these ethical questions and review processes are required under U.S. law for research institutions receiving federal funding.

In contrast, ethical discussion and guidelines around data visualization, that rambunctious cousin of data, are less established. On January 15, 2016 organizers at the Responsible Data Forum will host a workshop with artists, activists, academics, and practitioners on hand to draw out a set of recommendations on ethics in data visualization and to distill a set of best practices.

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>  11 January 2016 | LINK | Filed in
Deceptive data visualization can kill: airbag engineers alter lines and colors to distract and “dress up” data.
Twitter  9 January 2016 | LINK | Filed in
Human Rights Watch analysis of December 2015 satellite images show 1,450 Syrian refugee tents at Jordan border, up from 175 in April.

Twitter  10 December 2015 | LINK | Filed in
Visualizing the redistribution of wealth in the U.S. between 1971 and 2015. (Via.)
Twitter  9 December 2015 | LINK | Filed in , ,
Arriving in Berlin: a collaborative map of resources, made by refugees for refugees in English, Ararbic, and Farsi.
Twitter  30 October 2015 | LINK | Filed in ,

Suicide Rate for Black Children Surges

Three months ago, I read a story in the NY Times with a chilling lede: the suicide rate among black children has nearly doubled since the early 1990s, while the rate for white children has declined.

The story haunted me, and when the Harper’s Index repeated the statistic it prompted me to track down the source. It turns out the study cited uses data from the Centers for Disease Control, data that is easily accessible via the web. So I created a chart to show the change over time. The data is spiky but the overall trend is clear and horrifying.

Suicide by Adolescent Boys

Here is a csv of the chart’s data drawn from the CDC Fatal Injury Reports, 1999 - 2013 and 1981 - 1998.

>  8 August 2015 | LINK | Filed in
🐝💀 = 😳💀
Twitter  17 June 2015 | LINK | Filed in ,
ABA Journal: Infographics make the complex simple for a jury.
Twitter  18 April 2015 | LINK | Filed in
“Stories make data human. Data make stories real.”
@kimberlysilk via @rdlankes
Twitter  24 March 2015 | LINK | Filed in

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