Presented by Sarah Battersby
Senior Research Scientist at Tableau Software
UPDATED: A PDF of the presentation is available for download.
We live in a data rich world and many of the data that we encounter have a geographic link, such as a point coordinate, an address, a state, or country name. Maps are a key part of understanding geographically linked data and utilizing it in decision making. In designing maps, virtually anyone with a computer and an internet connection can be a cartographer – regardless of knowledge of principles of spatial data or visual and cartographic communication best practices. The good news about this democratization of cartography is that everyone is empowered to explore their own data with maps. The bad news is that anyone can make a map. While many map authoring tools help guide the design, it is still easy to unintentionally (or occasionally intentionally) mislead readers. The variant of the truth that we find in maps is largely driven by choices that the cartographer makes in the data collection, cleaning, analysis, and visualization process. In this presentation I consider issues of how the map designer and reader perceive mapped data and where “noise” can creep into the communication to distort the intended message.