Thought visualization was challenging? Now you have to be a journalist too!

Al Gore now claims to have invented data visualization.  Learn the truth…

It is April 1.  On a more serious point, Al Gore’s “Our Choice” digital journal set a new direction for combining interactivity with text.  I’m excited about the possibilities and of course have a twist in mind.

Many visualization practitioners lean toward the idea that pictures should tell the entire story — with a minimal amount of text.  I often feel this way and it’s backlash against “decks” with endless 8-point text.

However, think of text as data and you realize not every picture should replace text completely.  Instead, use the right mix to tell a compelling story and communicate clearly.  As “Our Choice” demonstrates, with interactivity we can fluidly traverse layers of a story.  It’s no longer required that everything is directly in front of us on the screen.

Here are a two ways to enrich your storytelling with text:

1. Include additional, RELEVANT information in tooltips/ mouseovers/ hover points and use formatting to tell your story.  I mostly see people simply use these spaces to hold details of the underlying data.  Instead, for example, #Tableau has extensive format options and you can add a journalistic feel.

2. Consider what text you could automatically pull into your database and feed into visuals.  Just as you provide drill-down into data, you can provide drill-down into text.  Some may want to see the headline while others want to read the complete story.

Please share how you use pictures and text together for creating compelling stories.

Learn more about “Our Choice”