Minimalism as a form of abuse
An unsuccessful adaptation of a classic

Fixing the visual versus fixing the story

It's great for me when my friend Alberto Cairo lent a helping hand (link). Here is the original chart showing deaths in African and Middle East countries due to recent unrest:


This is Cairo's redesign:


There is no doubt the new version brings out the data more clearly. I like the cropping of the continent. I'd color-code the countries using the same legend as above.

I'm troubled by the concept of the original chart. I struggle to find any interesting correlation of deaths, whether with time, with government reaction, or with geography. Of the three, I think geography is the most correlated so a good design should bring that out. (Of course, geographical bias is expected and thus rather boring.)

If the intention of the chart is to answer the question of what factors affect deaths, then the wrong variables are being utilized.

So, as regards the Trifecta Checkup, Cairo solved the V problem while the D problem remains.




I am firmly in the Alberto camp on this one, and I have to say it is disheartening to see some prominent people in the data vis community arguing against it (Robert Kosara, for example).

The re-design is no way perfect, and to be a fully realized presentation piece would warrant some clean up and care in the aesthetics, but the idea that the original makes it easier to understand the data is simply absurd.

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