Composition

8 posts
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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Some like it packed, some like it piled, and some like it wrapped

In addition to Xan's "packed bars" (which I discussed here), there are some related efforts to improve upon the treemap. To recap, treemap is a design to show parts against the whole, and it works by packing rectangles into the bounding box. Frequently, this leads to odd-shaped rectangles, e.g. really thin and really tall ones, and it asks readers to estimate relative areas of differently-scaled boxes. We often make mistakes...

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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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Much more to do after selecting a chart form

I sketched out this blog post right before the Superbowl - and was really worked up as I happened to be flying into Atlanta right after they won (well, according to any of our favorite "prediction engines," the Falcons had 95%+ chance of winning it all a minute from the end of the 4th quarter!) What I'd give to be in the SuperBowl-winning city the day after the victory! Maybe...

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Involuntary head-shaking is probably not an intended consequence of data visualization

This chart is in the Sept/Oct edition of Harvard Magazine: Pretty standard fare. It even is Tufte-sque in the sparing use of axes, labels, and other non-data-ink. Does it bug you how much work you need to do to understand this chart? Here is the junkchart version: In the accompanying article, the journalist declared that student progress on NAEP tests came to a virtual standstill, and this version highlights the...

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An example of focusing the chart on a message

Via Jimmy Atkinson on Twitter, I am alerted to this chart from the Wall Street Journal. The title of the article is "Fiscal Constraints Await the Next President." The key message is that "the next president looks to inherit a particularly dismal set of fiscal circumstances." Josh Zumbrun, who tipped Jimmy about this chart on Twitter, said that it is worth spending time on. I like the concept of the...

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Denver outspends everyone on this

Someone at the Wall Street Journal noticed that Denver's transit agency has outspent other top transit agencies, after accounting for number of rides -- and by a huge margin. But the accompanying graphic conspires against the journalist. For one thing, Denver is at the bottom of the page. Denver's two bars do not stand out in any way. New York's transit system dwarfs everyone else in both number of rides...

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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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