The Truthful Art — Intro, Ch1 & Ch2

Adam Clarke
Aug 24, 2018 · 2 min read

Cairo’s extensive discussion about truth and journalism resonates even more when reading in 2018 than it did when first written. In the few years since then, the term “fake news” has become ubiquitous. The tendency to casually dismiss anything that doesn’t immediately fit into one’s worldview with that term is reckless and ultimately destructive to our discourse. That said, the perspective of “journalism as a service” rather than solely a profession, was one that gave me cause for optimism. The potential to provide helpful, meaningful, and understandable visuals from otherwise “boring” datasets, in service to a public good, is immensely exciting.

When considering the various “types” of visualizations discussed in chapter 1, I find myself curious about trends — what is being used more now than 10 years ago? Or even 5 years ago? Perhaps it’s somewhat generational, but the long form infographics full of vibrant imagery and explanations appeal to me far less than the exploratory “news application” examples. The level of interactivity (buzzword: “engagement”) is far greater in the latter, and is more likely to draw me in.

While I tend to agree with Cairo’s perspective that we would do well to prioritize highlighting serious issues in our society, I couldn’t help but the comprehensive project exploring Season 1 of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. It also reminded me of the fun, sometimes quirky examples of visualizations posted on the “dataisbeautiful” sub-Reddit. One of the most popular posts of all-time there is the visual representation of the change in web traffic on a pornographic website before, during, and after the false missile alert in Hawaii in January 2018.

Is this crucially important information? Certainly not. But it’s light-hearted, a reasonably good (from my amateur perspective) visual representation of this data. Particularly when learning how to put these types of things together throughout the semester, I look forward to experimenting while using less conventional data sources.