Data is Just A Clue to the End Truth

David Crotty, Nov 14, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

"Show them pieces of the picture, so they can stand back for a little bit and let it pass, and come away with a deeper understanding." And "look after truth and goodness, and the beauty will look after itself." These are the essences of data visualization. This, and the idea that it is a human trait (and capacity) to look at complex disparate data and to identify meaningful information that emerges from the chaos. To me (and not to the video) this means that misperception is as important as perception. An example: I originally read the title of this article as "Data is Just A Clue to the End of Truth" and this altered my perception of the article and the video, and let me see something different in it. Any data visualization employs the designer, the data, and the viewer - perception (and recognition) require all three. In what sense, therefore, does data 'reveal' truth? No - truth should go into data visualization, but what comes out is beyond truth.

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