On the 13th of November, ISET was visited by Joey Cherdarchuk of Darkhorse Analytics, a Canadian company specializing in data science and information design. The firm is dedicated to helping organizations and individuals present their data in a clear and understandable way; in an often humorous and highly informative workshop, Mr. Cherdarchuk demonstrated how failures in data presentation can be misleading (wilfully or otherwise) and inaccurate. Mr. Cherdarchuk’s seminar formed a part of the larger Effective Data Visualization workshop hosted within ISET’s Modern Data Analysis (MDA) concentration.
The workshop, colourfully entitled ‘Data Looks Better Naked’, Mr. Cherdarchuk explained that raw data can be compared to an uncut diamond – the information needs to be crafted in order for it to be presented in its best form. This idea is highly applicable to economists attempting to present their research, facts and figures to a general audience who may not be familiar with the more intricate complexities of economics.
The title of the workshop referred to the fact that data is far easier to process when presented in a stripped-down form. Mr. Cherdarchuk demonstrated that the use of extravagant and colourful charts with unclear labelling, 3D imagery and unnecessary additions such as borders and repetitive subtitles can confuse or distract from the data itself. He explained that this is often deliberate – for example, 3D pie charts (which Mr. Cherdarchuk admitted he harbors particularly strong feelings about) can be used for marketing purposes to make profits or percentages seem more attractive. Often, however, the way in which data is confusingly presented is simply due to a lack of prior thought or understanding of how it can be interpreted (or misinterpreted) by others: Mr. Cherdarchuk showed that removing unnecessary bolding and colors, repetitive figures and names, and changing formats can make data easier to digest and comprehend.
Naturally, the way in which research and findings are presented is of the utmost importance for economists, and so the workshop was of the utmost importance for the ISET community. The institute is very grateful to Mr. Cherdarchuk and Darkhorse Analytics for treating the participants to such an illuminating and engaging seminar.