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Town Hall Seattle: Science Series

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Jan 13, 2021

We’ve all seen charts come through our social media feeds or on the news. More than ever, in a time when conversations are increasingly driven by numbers—for example, in relation to the COVID pandemic—charts are ostensibly used to communicate essential information. But how much can we trust those charts? And how do they influence our perception of truth?

Leading data visualization expert Alberto Cairo joined us in this livestreamed primer, introducing a core competency on analyzing charts, diagrams, and infographics. He argued that, to be informed citizens, we must all be able to decode and use the visual information that politicians, journalists, and even our employers present us with every day. Considering the decoding of charts an essential new literacy in our data-driven world, he examines contemporary examples ranging from election result infographics to global GDP maps, box office record charts—and even COVID graphics—to share the positives and negatives of relaying data visually.

Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the School of Communication of the University of Miami. He has consulted with companies and institutions such as Google and the Congressional Budget Office on visualizations.

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