Questions to ask oneself about Visualizing Uncertainty
- What does your viz purport to represent in the real world?
- Is your visualization introducing uncertainty to forgo conflict? In other words, are you being "more vague" in order to be "less politically-charged"?
- Does your error overwhelm your argument? Is your argument robust to error? Ideally your visualization should show margins of uncertainty or error in addition to your findings.
- Who is your audience? Your relationship to your audience determines your trade-off between certainty and precision.
- The knowledge of the uncertainty of your data is just as important as the data... in fact it is the data.
- What are you assuming when you compare unrepresentative datasets visually
Solutions for Visualizing Uncertainty
Below are some ways to visualize uncertainty in your data / research
- Identify alternate conclusions
- Aggregate to increase certainty (at the cost of precision)
- When your data creates much uncertainty, create relative visualizations or use grading
- Accept the uncertainty, highlight the uncertainty, celebrate the uncertainty
For the purposes of this afternoon's exercise we operated under the assumption that we can measure or assess uncertainty. this of course is our way of also acknowledging that there is uncertainty that is very hard, or even impossible, to measure.
Flavours of Uncertainty
Categories of data uncertainty that should be visualized.
Mapping Uncertainty / Dispute / Representing Different Opinions
Mockups of maps that highlight uncertainty or dispute / disagreement
Made using Mapbox
Other issues & noteworthy
- Our respective fields have different levels of comfort or facility with dealing with data uncertainty and visualizing uncertainty.
- The pace of our work also affects the level of comfort our respective fields have with uncertainty. Fields operating at the pace of emergency or emerging situations were very comfortable with accepting and visualizing uncertainty, and longer-form academic works were less comfortable with embracing Wild West-levels of uncertainty.
in no particular order