This content originally appeared as part of The ‘Gale newsletter.
This week we’re chatting with Simon Rogers, a data journalist and data editor at Google News Lab. Simon is the author of Facts are Sacred and numerous infographics for children’s books, as well as the creator and former editor of the Guardian’s Datablog. Without further ado:
1. If you could be any type of chart, what would you be?
I would be a choropleth, a map, because it’s really easy to get them right but also really easy to get them wrong. I’m always striving to get the data visualisations right while simultaneously recognizing the possibility of getting them wrong.
2. If you were stuck on a desert island, what viz would you want to create and what would you use to make it?
First, I would map out the island. I would have to use what’s available, so — coconuts and palm leaves and things that aren’t going to blow around. I’d need a big flat rock. Once I’d mapped it, I’d want to get a sense of the biology of the island. I’d want to make sure there are no monsters hiding, and I’d need to know where there is food. After all of that, I’d be trying to distract myself with things like visualising song lyrics.
3. What is one visualization that has inspired you?
John Snow’s cholera map and Florence Nightingale’s rose chart — not because I want to make them, but because they show people the opposite of what they expect. With Nightingale, it was that more people died from preventable causes than from combat. John Snow wasn’t a visual artist and yet he created something so important that it changed the world, which is pretty unusual.
I’ve also always loved Dorling Kindersley (DK) cutaway books. Those are actually my favorite with which to just relax.