Current Affairs

35 posts
Upcoming talks here and there

I'm giving a dataviz talk in San Ramon, CA on Thursday Nov 9. Go here to register. *** Then next Monday (Nov 13, 11 am), I will be in Boston at Harvard Business Review, giving a "live whiteboard session" on A/B Testing. This talk will be streamed live on Facebook Live. *** Finally, my letter to the editor of New York Times Magazine was published this past Sunday. This letter...

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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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Lop-sided precincts, a visual exploration

In the last post, I discussed one of the charts in the very nice Washington Post feature, delving into polarizing American voters. See the post here. (Thanks again Daniel L.) Today's post is inspired by the following chart (I am  showing only the top of it - click here to see the entire chart): The chart plots each state as a separate row, so like most such charts, it is...

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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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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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Starstruck and doubled over: losing poise over Indian charts

Twitter follower @ashwink_s didn't see eye-to-eye with the following charts that appeared in an Indian publication. There is the infamous racetrack chart: In the racetrack chart, the designer has embedded data in the angles at the center of the concentric circles but the visual cues point to the arc lengths. If the same proportion of people voted Yes as voted No, the two arcs should look like this: The length...

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Another simple Excel chart needs help

Twitter friend Jimmy A. asked if I can help Elon Musk make this chart "more readable". Let's start with a couple of things he did right. Placing SpaceX, his firm's data, at the bottom of the chart is perfect, as the bottom part of a stacked column chart is the only part that is immediately readable. Combining all of Europe into one category and Other U.S. into one group reduce...

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Unintentional deception of area expansion #bigdata #piechart

Someone sent me this chart via Twitter, as an example of yet another terrible pie chart. (I couldn't find that tweet anymore but thank you to the reader for submitting this.) At first glance, this looks like a pie chart with the radius as a second dimension. But that is the wrong interpretation. In a pie chart, we typically encode the data in the angles of the pie sectors, or...

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Making people jump over hoops

Take a look at the following chart, and guess what message the designer wants to convey: This chart accompanied an article in the Wall Street Journal about Wells Fargo losing brokers due to the fake account scandal, and using bonuses to lure them back. Like you, my first response to the chart was that little has changed from 2015 to 2017. It is a bit mysterious the intention of the...

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