The Glasgow Local Group meeting held on 23 April 2015, featured speaker Dr Robert Grant, a senior lecturer from Kingston University and St George’s Medical School. Dr Grant presented his recent work and experiences surrounding the role, and the use (and abuse), of data visualisation. The talk, jointly hosted by the RSS Young Statistician’s Section and the OR group of Scotland, was delivered to a packed audience at the University of Strathclyde.
Dr Grant began the talk by discussing the historical challenges in constructing and printing data visualisations that have only recently been alleviated by the explosion in digital and online media technology. He discussed the role of visualisation as a tool to engage audiences and present data, and raised some issues, such as the importance of visualisation design and the potential for visualisations to mislead. The importance of understanding human perception when considering the design of graphics was highlighted, and in particular how visualisations that compare quantities using shape and area are often misinterpreted. He discussed a wide variety of software options that are available, but emphasised the need for creativity in making effective visualisations, and that an established approach may not be the most appropriate.
The event was broadcast live via webinar to attendees wishing to watch remotely, promoted by both the YSS and GLG, and successfully attracted over 160 Eventbrite sign-ups. Webinar participants were encouraged to engage by posting comments and questions on Twitter using the hashtag #GlaDataViz, which was highly successful with many participants sharing talk materials, web links and posting questions for the speaker.