On March 1st, Ingrid Orvedal, QED’s Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist attended the 2017 Tapestry Conference in St. Augustine, Florida. Tapestry is an event designed to advance interactive online data storytelling and brings together actors from different spaces to provoke ideas and get discussions going across disciplines.
Intrigued from the conference, Ingrid recounted: “The event was an eye-opener and helped ame understand that those across fields have the same challenges and concerns. It was fascinating to hear how others are currently approaching these issues.”
The key take-aways from the day-long event are as follows:
The first learning was that “Data and visualizations are NOT neutral”. Lena Groeger from ProPublica in her keynote speech emphasized the importance of recognizing the “unintentional ways our assumptions find their way into the data we collect and the story we tell.” Her data story was about inequities and some new technologies that help us recognize, call attention, and begin to address these inequities. Her favorite visualization Parable of the Polygon demonstrates through a series of interactive visualizations the story of how small and seemingly harmless choices can make a harmful world – such a neat idea!
Other key ideas shared by presenters were focused on audience engagement and perception.
And finally, there is evidence from cognitive psychology to help us understand what makes visualizations effective for viewers/users! Michell Borkin shared findings from her research on memorability and recall and highlighted key design principles that made for improved recall.
The Tapestry Conference was an enriching platform where different viewpoints were brought together with the goal of generating a rich conversation about data storytelling. Ingrid’s insights from the event are timely with QED’s growing initiatives within data hub and data visualization.