James Cheshire ponders the difference between fast and slow thinking maps, and the dying breed of the latter.
So do the renowned folks at the NY Times Graphics Dept. prefer fast or slow thinking visualisations? I asked them what they think makes a successful map. Archie Tse said what I hoped he would: the best maps readable, or interpretable, at a number of levels. They grab interest from across the room and offer the headlines before drawing the viewer ever closer to reveal intricate detail. I think of these as rare visualisations for fast and slow thinking. The impact of such excellent maps is manifest by the popularity of atlases and why they inspire so many to become cartographers and/or travel the world.
A graphic that takes a little while to understand doesn’t always mean it was a failure in design. It might mean that the underlying data is hard to understand. Likewise, a graphic that isn’t what you expect might let you answer different questions than from the usual standby.