Demystifying the Mythologies of Data Visualization
We live in the age of data visualization, but has it always been that way?
Ever since the first Assyrian and Greek stories, humans have passed down their love of storytelling and tradition in the form of myths. These myths are often inspired by true events, but other times they are entirely fictional. Myths can sustain long-standing traditions, prevent people from questioning norms, and ultimately persuade an audience towards a certain belief or action. Much like many aspects of society and culture, the field of data visualization is rich with its own mythologies and problematic histories. Did data visualization help spur Manifest Destiny? What was the objective of maps containing "moral statistics"? What is the truth behind the myth that unbiased data leads to unbiased models?
This session will include a brief history of data visualization and its mythologies, insights from both theoretical and modern texts, and interactive brainstorming activities. We’ll share how we've encountered the myths of data visualization in our own work and learn how to contextualize them for diverse audiences.