As I usually do in my workshops, I talked to a group in Warsaw, Poland about how we should use color intentionally in our data visualization and that, in fact, the color choice itself can help us tell our story. I prepared a little activity around this issue, in which I asked them to generate a list of the words, phrases, feelings, memories, etc that come to mind when seeing this color:
Apart from “very yellow,” what words and phrases come to mind when you see this color? Do you have a positive or negative association to it?
You may be surprised to learn that auditors themselves don’t see the world in stark black and white, and we enjoy a dash of color just as much as the next person. Within reason, of course. (And for the record, our words are ‘sunflower,’ ‘sparky,’ and ‘neon sign.’) But what influence does color have on our perception, and how does that apply to our work?
Stephanie Evergreen explores the influence of colors on our psychological state, and ponders how they can best be used in data visualization. Read more here, or explore the psychology of color in more in-depth here.
Top level economic measures never tell the whole story. Knowing how many jobs have been added is important but it alone cannot tell you if job growth is enough to keep pace with population growth, or about the types of jobs being added and so forth. That is why a few years ago we introduced the Economic Recovery Scorecard which showed the progress made across nearly 40 different measures.
Josh Lehner at OEA examines Oregon’s post recession recovery, using indicators from the proportion of 18-34 year olds living at home, to bankruptcy filing stats and SNAP usage. Read more here.
Through media like visual art, fiction, and even food, artists have sought to transform static data points into vibrant and immersive experiences. In some cases, governments have commissioned these artists to produce pieces that promote resident engagement with data and other works that leverage data to bring residents into the physical city. In others, artists have independently produced data-inspired works that governments would do well to publicize and examine as potentially valuable sources of information. These works have given data another mouthpiece, made digital engagement an active experience, and provided governments with critical information on their data practices.
Importantly, art that uses data as a subject has a different goal than data visualization, which seeks to display data in a more digestible format to facilitate easier analysis. Art moves past first-order insights from data to establish an emotional connection with viewers and unlock personal, embedded meanings not accessible through quantitative analysis.
Chris Bousquet with Data-Smart City Solutions shares some vivid examples of how impersonal quantitative data can intersect with art to connect with the audience on both logical and emotional levels. Read more here.
The Oregon Secretary of State Audits Division releases an annual financial condition report for the previous fiscal year, which covers revenues and expenditures and reports on the State’s overall fiscal health. Enjoy our summary below, or read the full report here.
Auditors know how difficult it can be to muster facts to develop findings, workpaper by workpaper, and draft after draft, to get the language right. In contrast, someone can easily broadcast misinformation or, worse, distrust and skepticism about others’ information. Mark Twain had a good quote: “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its shoes on.”
What should auditors do in these times of fewer reporters holding local government accountable, and less public confidence in facts?
Our very own auditing sage Gary Blackmer discusses the nature and necessity of trust as it pertains to government auditing. Read more here.
Scotland’s financial devolution settlement is complex and ever-changing. Our health and social care services have gone through a sustained period of reform, and they continue to face demographic challenges. Community empowerment legislation is changing the way local decisions about services and public spending are made. Add in Brexit and talk of a potential further referendum on Scottish independence, and Scotland makes a fascinating case study for the people charged with tracking public money from our fellow audit institutions overseas.
Learn more about how our compatriots ‘cross the pond are handling the ongoing social and economic changes in Scotland here.