Often, when you get data that is organized by geography — say, for example, food stamp rates in every county, high school graduation rates in every state, election results in every House district, racial and ethnic distributions in each census tract — the impulse is since the data CAN be mapped, the best way to present the data MUST be a map. You plug the data into ArcView, join it up with a shapefile, export to Illustrator, clean up the styles and voilà! Instant graphic ready to be published.
...But sometimes the reflexive impulse to map the data can make you forget that showing the data in another form might answer other — and sometimes more important — questions.
Via Lauren Moss