Comparability

56 posts
Verging on trust

I’m not quite done with that Verge survey on social media popularity. Last time, I discussed one of the stacked bar charts about how much users like or dislike specific brands such as Facebook and Twitter. Today, I look at the very first chart in the article. This chart supposedly says users trust Amazon the most among those technology brands, just about the same level as customers trust their bank....

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Choosing the right metric reveals the story behind the subway mess in NYC

I forgot who sent this chart to me - it may have been a Twitter follower. The person complained that the following chart exaggerated how much trouble the New York mass transit system (MTA) has been facing in 2017, because of the choice of the vertical axis limits. This chart is vintage Excel, using Excel defaults. I find this style ugly and uninviting. But the chart does contain some good...

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Fifty-nine intersections supporting forty dots of data

My friend Ray V. asked how this chart can be improved: Let's try to read this chart. The Economist is always the best at writing headlines, and this one is simple and to the point: the rich get richer. This is about inequality but not just inequality - the growth in inequality over time. Each country has four dots, divided into two pairs. From the legend, we learn that the...

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Let’s not mix these polarized voters as the medians run away from one another

Long-time follower Daniel L. sent in a gem, by the Washington Post. This is a multi-part story about the polarization of American voters, nicely laid out, with superior analyses and some interesting graphics. Click here to see the entire article. Today's post focuses on the first graphic. This one: The key messages are written out on the 2017 charts: namely, 95% of Republicans are more conservative than the median Democrat,...

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Let’s not mix these polarized voters as the medians run away from one another

Long-time follower Daniel L. sent in a gem, by the Washington Post. This is a multi-part story about the polarization of American voters, nicely laid out, with superior analyses and some interesting graphics. Click here to see the entire article. Today's post focuses on the first graphic. This one: The key messages are written out on the 2017 charts: namely, 95% of Republicans are more conservative than the median Democrat,...

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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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A long view of hurricanes

This chart by Axios is well made. The full version is here. It's easy to identify all the Cat 5 hurricanes. Only important ones are labeled. The other labels are hidden behind the hover. The chart provides a good answer to the question: what time of the year does the worst hurricanes strike. It's harder to compare the maximum speeds of the hurricanes. I wish there is a way to...

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The salaries are attractive but the chart isn’t

The only reason why the IEEE Spectrum magazine editors chose this chart form is because they think they need to deliver precise salary figures to readers. This chart is just so... sad. The color scheme is all wrong, the black suggesting a funeral. The printed data occupying at least half of the width of each bar frustrate any attempt to compare lengths. We enter an unusual place where higher numbers...

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Speed demon quartered and shrunk

Reader Richard K. submitted a link to Microsoft Edge's website. This chart uses three speedometers to tell the story that Microsoft's Edge browser is faster than Chrome or Firefox. These speedometer charts are disguised racetrack charts. Read last week's post first if you haven't. Richard complained the visual design distorting the data. How the distortion entered the picture is a long story. Let's begin with an accurate representation of the...

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Wheel of fortune without prizes: the negative report about negativity

My friend, Louis V., handed me a report from Harvard's Shorenstein Center, with the promise that I can make a blog post or two from it. And I wasn't disappointed. This report (link) caught some attention a few months ago because of the click-bait headline that the media is "biased" against Trump in his first 100 days. They used the most naive definition of "bias". The metric is the amount...

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