information design

An Introduction to Data Visualization for Human Rights

Toolkit Now Available

Using data visualization can improve the effectiveness of human rights work that involves data. In particular, combining data and visuals in the promotion of human rights enables advocates to harness the power of both statistics and narrative. Visualizing data can facilitate audiences' understanding of abuses and motivate people to take action. When used as a tool in human rights research, it can help investigators identify patterns and see the connections among individual rights violations.

To introduce researchers to topics and principles of data visualization for human rights, we developed a toolkit that can be used on its own or as a data visualization workshop activity. The kit contains 6 chapters that take practitioners step by step through the following:

Each chapter is set out succinctly as a bite-sized summary of a larger data visualization topic. It is our hope that the kit will speak to students as well as human rights experts, and that it rewards both casual browsing and careful review. The chapters can stand alone or be used as a sequence of steps in a workshop aimed at preparing rights practitioners for informed and strategic use of data visualization.

The kit is available online at and can also be downloaded as a series of PDF booklets.

Our project is the result of a research collaboration between the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Tandon School of Engineering at New York University, and was funded with a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. These data visualization guidelines were authored by John Emerson and Margaret Satterthwaite with help from contributors Brianne Cuffe, Sidra Mahfooz, and Deirdre Dlugoleski, and input from Enrico Bertini, Oded Nov, and NGO colleagues and participants in the Responsible Data Forum.

>  31 January 2018 | LINK | Filed in ,

Thresholds of Knowledge

Reading this essay by Jeff Jarvis on the future of newspapers (which encourages, among other things, radical experimentation as community-centric service delivery internet start-ups) I ran into this useful hierarchy of knowledge:

  1. knowledge of the tool and what it can provide,
  2. ability to spec requirements with a developer or expert,
  3. ability to adapt what has been developed without screwing it up,
  4. ability to make the thing,
  5. expertise or the ability to teach the tool or skill.

I'm in the midst of wrapping up a series of booklets on data visualization and these are handy. While it would be great to get everyone up to stage 4 or 5, practitioners at each of these stages require a different type of information and instruction. I'm hoping folks will at least move up one level.

>  15 August 2017 | LINK | Filed in ,

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