Assignment 2 : Static Visualization Critique


In this assignment, you are to select one static visualization from any source (online or elsewhere) and use the methods discussed in class to critique it. Do not use visualizations that others have critiqued or that appear in Few, Tufte, or other infovis texts or blogs.

Write a critique of at least one to two pages (not including images) about the visualization. In your critique, you should use concepts and principles from the readings and lectures to support your claims. You will probably find it easier to apply the principles we have been discussing so far if the visualization includes multiple variables and at least some quantitative data. We also recommend that you choose a visualization that is reasonably clear and effective - that is, don't choose a visualization that is truly awful or incomprehensible unless you can state specifically and in detail how it fails the principles we have identified.

Please address the following questions about the visualization in your writeup. Capture screenshots or include images of the visualizations in your writeup and use them to illustrate your points. If you find that a visualization can be improved, sketch out or describe a better alternative (this can include changing some details about what was actually plotted, but staying within the main thrust of the visualization). Note that even a really good visualization can often be improved in some way.

1. List the source of the visualization (a bibliographic citation is preferred, including the date if you can determine it). Include the creator and what you know of their background.
2. Who is the intended audience? What is its intended goal or purpose?
3. What information does this visualization represent?
4. How many data dimensions does it encode? Are the encoding mappings appropriate?
5. List several tasks, comparisons or evaluations it enables.
6. What principles of excellence best describe why it is good?
7. List at least three strengths and three weaknesses of the visualization.
8. Does the visualization serve its intended purpose, in your opinion?
9. Can you suggest any improvements?
10. Why do you like this visualization?

Note: You must work individually on this assignment.

Grading (20 pts)

Assignments should be submitted to Dropbox by midnight before class. Assignments will be graded based on the selection of interesting visualizations, the quality and originality of the analyses, and the quality of the writeups.