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Storytelling with visualization: Some important questions

Storytelling with visualization: Some important questions

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Publié parAlberto Cairo
Slides for a short presentation at the Computation+Journalism 2013 Symposium, at Georgia Tech
Slides for a short presentation at the Computation+Journalism 2013 Symposium, at Georgia Tech

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Alberto Cairo on Feb 01, 2013
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03/28/2014

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Population with a BA degree or higher

DC

Percentage of obese people

45%
States with a larger percentage of people with higher education than with obesity States with a larger percentage of obese people than of people with a higher education US average 27.2% BA or higher 27.0% Obese

40%

MA CO NH MD NJ CT VT VI MN CA UT NY KS WA WV AL SC KY LA TX MI TN MO OK AR

35%

MS

30%

25%

FL OR WI AK MT SD PA ND NM SC NE OH NV TX MI IA TN ME ID NC OK WY LA AL

MO AZ GA IL RI DE HI

GA IN KS OH PA IA IL DE NC

IN KY MS

CO

SD ND MD NE ME OR FL ID WI VA RI WA NM WY NH MN AK AZ CA NY NJ VT MA MT HI CT UT NV DC

Questions about storytelling and the craft of news data visualization
Alberto Cairo University of Miami www.thefunctionalart.com Twitter: @albertocairo

20%

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15%

WV

Question 1: Do we need storytelling at all?
(In that case, what kind of storytelling?)

POPULATION CHANGE Above Average Below

DIAGRAM
NEWS IN PERSPECTIVE

+9.4% +0.1% -0,1%

No data available

-9,4%

Brazil’s Demographic Opportunity
How Brazil can take advantage of a future with fewer children per couple.
Alberto Cairo, Francine Lima, Marco Vergotti
PRELIMINARY DATA FROM THE 2010 CENSUS

create an interesting picture of the changes that the Brazilian population has gone through in the past ten years. Brazil’s population grew, on average, 10% between 2000 and 2010, but the fertility rate is below 2.1 children per woman, the minimum to keep a population from shrinking. According to César Marques, a demographer from the University of Campinas, the main challenge Brazil will face in the future is how to maintain a healthy Social Security system if the number of older and retired people will likely be much larger than it is today. Read on to learn about all the variables at play in this story.

2000
AP RR AC DF PA AM TO MT GO MS SC SE MA RN RO CE AL ES PB PI PE SP PR MG RJ BA RS 477,032 324,397 557,526 2,051,146 6,192,307 2,812,557 1,157,098 2,504,353 5,003,228 2,078,001 5,356,360 1,784,475 5,651,475 2,776,782 1,379,787 7,430,661 2,822,621 3,097,232 3,443,825 2,843,278 7,918,344 37,032,403 9,563,458 17,891,494 14,391,282 13,070,250 10,187,798

2010
648,553 425,398 707,125 2,469,489 7,443,904 3,350,773 1,373,551 2,954,625 5,849,105 2,404,256 6,178,603 2,036,277 6,424,340 3,121,451 1,535,625 8,180,087 3,093,994 3,392,775 3,753,633 3,086,448 8,541,250 39,924,091 10,266,737 19,159,260 15,180,636 13,633,969 10,576,758

Change
36.0% 31.1% 26.8% 20.4% 20.2% 19.1% 18.7% 18.0% 16.9% 15.7% 15.4% 14.1% 13.7% 12.4% 11.3% 10.1% 9.6% 9.5% 9.0% 8.6% 7.9% 7.8% 7.4% 7.1% 5.5% 4.3% 3.8%

I am a journalist and a designer: Storytelling is part of my professional training

1 BRAZIL’S POPULATION IS BIGGER
The 2010 Census has revealed a 9.4% population increase between 2000 and 2010. The differences between states, as you can see on the chart on the right, are noticeable. Most rich states, such as São Paulo and Rio, didn’t grow as fast as the ones in the north east. 2000 2010 169.799.170 190,732,694

Above average

Below average

(Data updated on November 4, 2010) The map shows the change in population in Brazilian municipalities. Between 2000 and 2010, 1,630 cities and towns, from a total of 5,506, lost population. Rio Grande do Sul is the state with a the largest number of municipalities that lost inhabitants, due to a significant drop in fertility rates and domestic migration
Sources: IBGE, UN, World Bank, César Marques (UNICAMP)

AVERAGE +9.4%

2 —BUT THE FERTILITY RATE IS MUCH LOWER THAN EXPECTED
A study in 2004 estimated that in 2010, the fertility rate would be 2.4 children per woman, on average. But new data collected by the IBGE prove that the fertility rate is already 1.9, below the threshold called “replacement rate”. When the fertility rate drops below this number, the population of a country will eventually start to shrink and grow older. Number of children per woman

3 AS A CONSEQUENCE, POPULATION WILL STOP GROWING—
Forecasts made in 2004 anticipated that Brazil’s population would stop growing in 2040. But the most recent data from the IBGE suggests that this could happen much earler, in 2030.

250 million people

New population peak: moment when population will stop growing

Each line represents a country or continent

125
Former population peak (calculated in 2004)

0
1950 2030 2040 2050

8 4 —AND IT WILL BECOME OLDER 7
NIGERIA Men
75 years 65 50 30 20

Women

Comparing the current population pyramid with the one predicted for 2050 2005 Forecast for 2050

6

2 1 0 1 2 Millions of people per age group

5

YEMEN

África

How Brazil can transform the population challenge into an opportunity
As the population ages, the proportion of people of working age increases. The country will therefore have more people producing wealth (if the labor market can absorb them) and fewer children to consume investments. It is a window of opportunity, because in some cases the number of people of working age to fall back when older people are leaving the market.

Objections I’ve read...

4
WORLD AVERAGE

3
INDIA Australia Asia Latin America North America BRAZIL Europe CHINA Years

The population under 15 years of age is falling today. A smaller number of student in public schools will facilitate the quality of teaching, if the amount invested in education stays the same. Educational policy focused on low-income youth favors the formation of more skilled workforce and greater social mobility. In the future, Brazil will reach the stage of Europe and Japan, which struggle to support their elders. This is why it’s so important to prepare a more balanced retirement system, which will include retirement at a later age.

2

Replacement level: average of 2.1 children per woman

1

1. “The plural of anecdote is not data.” 2. “When you design a story, you prime me to see mainly what you want me to see.” 3. “Storytelling imposes narrative patterns to data that are not necessarily complete or cohesive.” 4. “If the statistics are boring, then you've got the wrong numbers.”

Not surprise that so many people distrust “storytelling”

“Power”, “Impact”, “Captivate”, “Convince”, “Inspire”, “Persuade”, “Connect”...
You may say that these are secondary values for journalists but are you really sure about that?

The human brain tends to impose linear patterns to nonlinear phenomena to make sense of them

This can lead to “narrative fallacies”: Seeing connections and causation where there’s none; oversimplification of complex phenomena. Journalists are not aware of brain bugs and biases, in general

I don’t even need to comment on this, right?

Many said that the main sin he committed was to make up stuff, but the problems go beyond that: His books impose cohesive narrative structures to disperse bits of evidence

But we cannot avoid stories: The serial structure of stories matches the serial dynamics of the thinking mind

In part, we like stories because we create stories in our heads to make sense of the world

The other side of the coin is that readers may get the wrong “stories” from non-narrative data visualizations

"Don’t teach people how to use tools, but teach them how to make tools." Philip Meyer

Question 2: Do all journalists need to learn to code?
(Should we teach pure scripting rather than software tools? Is that a realistic goal?)

Population with a BA degree or higher
DC

Percentage of obese people

45%
States with a larger percentage of people with higher education than with obesity States with a larger percentage of obese people than of people with a higher education US average 27.2% BA or higher 27.0% Obese

40%

MA CO NH MD NJ CT VT VI MN CA UT NY KS WA WV AL SC KY LA TX MI TN MO OK AR

35%

MS

30%

25%

FL OR WI AK MT SD PA ND NM SC NE OH NV TX MI IA TN ME ID NC OK WY LA AL

MO AZ GA IL RI DE HI

GA IN KS OH PA IA IL DE NC

IN KY MS

CO

SD ND MD NE ME OR FL ID WI VA RI WA NM WY NH MN AK AZ CA NY NJ VT MA MT HI CT UT NV DC

Thank you!
Alberto Cairo University of Miami www.thefunctionalart.com Twitter: @albertocairo

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