Thursday, December 01, 2011
When I was an undergraduate in Economics I didn't received a lot (if any) introduction to historical data covering stock returns, interest rates, inflation much less the income, industry and occupation data that I am researching for my "Illustrated Guide to Income." I suspect that hasn't changed for today's students.
While journalists will write articles about unemployment based on a press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless the reader is very familiar with the statistics and what they measure, these numbers are out of context and not very meaningful. News organizations like the New York Times experiment with data graphics, but there is data at government web sites and in academic papers that is not tied to current events so doesn't get covered by the news. And the need for more and better data visualizations exists with lots of room for experimentation.
I consider my web site Visualizing Economics and “An Illustrated Guide to Income in the United States” to be my experiments in trying to bring clarity to economic data. I wanted to see if data graphics on their own can be used to explain a subject like income, instead of used just as supporting materials within a traditional storytelling format like a magazine article or embedded in a video.
I am not sure myself if the format I have chosen is going to work. But I know that the individual data graphics will be of interest to people, especially with the news coverage of Occupy Wall Street and the discussion it has created around income inequality in America.