Aggregation

18 posts
Three pies and a bar: serving visual goodness

If you are not sick of the Washington Post article about friends (not) letting friends join the other party, allow me to write yet another post on, gasp, that pie chart. And sorry to have kept reader Daniel L. waiting, as he pointed out, when submitting this chart to me, that he had tremendous difficulty understanding it:   This is not one pie but six pies on a platter. There...

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Getting into the heads of the chart designer

When I look at this chart (from Business Insider), I try to understand the decisions made by its designer - which things are important to her/him, and which things are less important. The chart shows average salaries in the top 2 percent of income earners. The data are split by gender and by state. First, I notice that the designer chooses to use the map form. This decision suggests that...

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It’s your fault when you use defaults

The following chart showed up on my Twitter feed last week. It's a cautionary tale for using software defaults.  At first glance, the stacking of years in a bar chart makes little sense. This is particularly so when there appears not to be any interesting annual trend: the four segments seem to have roughly equal length almost everywhere. This designer might be suffering from what I have called "loss aversion"...

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Sorting out what’s meaningful and what’s not

A few weeks ago, the New York Times Upshot team published a set of charts exploring the relationship between school quality, home prices and commute times in different regions of the country. The following is the chart for the New York/New Jersey region. (The article and complete data visualization is here.) This chart is primarily a scatter plot of home prices against school quality, which is represented by average test...

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Your charts need the gift of purpose

Via Twitter, I received this chart: My readers are nailing it when it comes to finding charts that deserve close study. On Twitter, the conversation revolved around the inversion of the horizontal axis. Favorability is associated with positive numbers, and unfavorability with negative numbers, and so, it seems the natural ordering should be to place Favorable on the right and Unfavorable on the left. Ordinarily, I'd have a problem with...

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Is this chart rotten?

Some students pointed me to a FiveThirtyEight article about Rotten Tomatoes scores that contain the following chart: (link to original) This is a chart that makes my head spin. Too much is going on, and all the variables in the plot are tangled with each other. Even after looking at it for a while, I still don't understand how the author looked at the above and drew this conclusion: "Movies...

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Political winds and hair styling

Washington Post (link) and New York Times (link) published dueling charts last week, showing the swing-swang of the political winds in the U.S. Of course, you know that the pendulum has shifted riotously rightward towards Republican red in this election. The Post focused its graphic on the urban / not urban division within the country: Over Twitter, Lazaro Gamio told me they are calling these troll-hair charts. You certainly can...

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Mapping the two Americas

If you type "two Americas map" into Google image search, you get the following top results: Designers overwhelmingly pick the choropleth map as the way to depitct the two nations. Now, look at these maps from the New York Times (link): and this: I believe the background is a relief map. Would like to see one where the color is based on the strength of support for Democrats or Republicans....

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How will the Times show election results next week? Will they give us a cliffhanger?

I don't know for sure how the New York Times will present election results next week; it's going to be as hard to predict as the outcome of the election! The Times just published a wonderful article describing all the different ways election results have been displayed in the past. tldr; The designer has to make hard choices. Some graphics are better at one thing but worse at another. If...

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If Clinton and Trump go to dinner, do they sit face to face, or side by side?

One of my students tipped me to an August article in the Economist, published when last the media proclaimed Donald Trump's campaign in deep water. The headline said "Donald Trump's Media Advantage Falters." Who would have known, judging from the chart that accompanies the article? There is something very confusing about the red line, showing "Trump August 2015 = 1." The data are disaggregated by media channel, and yet the...

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