Welcome to Seeing Complexity, a blog aimed at showcasing the best of data visualization from the internet as well as academic sources.

Jacob Alonso is a high school math teacher in San Antonio, TX.  He was previously taught at a community college and was a researcher for several national education-related nonprofit agencies.  He graduated from the University of Chicago.

Dan Plechaty is a graduate of the University of Chicago. He currently works at RCF Economic and Financial Consulting in Chicago, IL.

4 Responses “About” →
  1. When I was doing my graduate work, my professors held a suspicion of and dislike for data mining. Interestingly, the size of the data I used for my dissertation was so large, there was no avoiding some data mining to get at the hidden story. And somewhat to my dismay, my dissertation advisor preferred I present that “story” in tables, not in images/charts/etc.

  2. In a discipline so governed by tradition and training, it is difficult for me to imagine how to normalize (good) data visualization into social sciences education. Referring to my most recent post on the origins of visualizing data through charts and graphs in the 18th century, there was actually quite a bit of argument over the use of those now ubiquitous tools of presenting data. Non-tabular representations of data were considered to be deceptive–in their thinking, why else would someone eschew the use of the stolid tabular form? I think we may be at a similar junction, where more computer-heavy forms of imaging are accessible to students but sometimes (or, in my experience, often) ignored or even dismissed by professors or other educators.

    To me, it’s kind of ironic that the first use of charts and graphs was to tell a narrative of history in a more accessible form (albeit in order to demonstrate the power of god in guiding events). Why else would you use charts at all?

    The problem is, in my experience my professors do not see visuals as simply a super-efficient form of data compression. Our brains can understand the implications and meaning of an image much faster than words (edit: apparently this has been demonstrated empirically by psychologists as a facet of human evolution), which means you can include more information in an image and allow the brain to decode it. My profs are not thinking of the brain as a machine because they are not thinking about their audience, or readers outside of their field who cannot decode regularized information presentation (like the regression in Political Science) as fast…so due to one’s repeated exposure to a particular form of information visualization, you get used to it. To me, that doesn’t mean it is the best way, especially if you are trying to reach a larger audience. So again, I really think it is a problem with training.


  3. Cece Yu


    O hai, Jacob and Dan. Got here from Jacob’s Twitter page, and just wanted to say that data visualization is awesome. Kudos. I’m myself planning to learn Processing soon..


  4. Guest


    We love processing!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: