The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey recently published an interesting survey titled “Turkey Reading Culture Map” (Türkiye Okuma Kültürü Haritası) which sheds light on the reading habits of people in Turkey. Being data geek and information visualization enthusiast myself I could not resist diving into numbers, documents and maps.
The research had been conducted by a well-known and a very experienced public research company and I’m glad that they prepared maps and provided basic statistics. Speaking of maps, I cannot help myself but notice a problem with the provided maps, particularly the use of colour to convery information. If you look carefully at the legend at the bottom of the maps you’ll see that it starts with very light yellow, then goes on to shades of blue and then right in the middle it jumps to a shade of yellow, then do darker colors, then to red and then to the darkest color on that scale. The problem with this setting is that it does not follow a linear progression of colors and shades which in turn leads to a map that is not very easy to interpret. If they were more careful in designing the color scale and distributing it on these maps, people would be looking at much more intuitive, easy-to-interpret maps.
Aside from the problems mentioned above the study presents surprising results. For example I would expect the most industrialized regions of Turkey to be same places with the highest book literacy but according to maps, the case is totally different, Erzincan and Erzurum seem to be winners in this category. It is also sad because even in the winning regions the average number of books read each year by a person is about 12. On the other hand in the regions where people have to most books we see that the average is around 51 excluding textbooks. Not even a few hundred but only about 50 books on average per home.