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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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Visualizing electoral college politics: exercise in displaying relationships between variables

Reader Berry B. sent in a tip quite some months ago that I just pulled out of my inbox. He really liked the Washington Post's visualization of the electoral college in the Presidential election. (link) One of the strengths of this project is the analysis that went on behind the visualization. The authors point out that there are three variables at play: the population of each state, the votes casted...

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The art of arranging bars

Twitter friend Janie H. asked how I would visualize a hypothetical third column of this chart that contains the change from 2016 to 2017: This table records the results from a survey question by eMarketer, asking respondents ("marketers") to identify their top 5 technology priorities in the next 12 months. I suggested the following: A hype-chasing phenomemon is clearly at play. Internet of Things and wearable technology are so last...

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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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What do we think of the “packed” bar chart?

Xan Gregg - my partner in the #onelesspie campaign to replace terrible Wikipedia pie charts one at a time - has come up with a new chart form that he calls "packed bars". It's a combination of bar charts and the treemap. Here is an example of a packed barchart, in which the top 10 companies on the S&P500 index are displayed: What he's doing is to add context to...

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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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Fastest way to alphabetize your bookshelf

Sorting algorithms. Apparently there are an endless number of ways to visualize them in various contexts, and somehow it never gets old. Here sorting in the context of books on a shelf. Tags: sorting

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Visualizing citation impact

Michael Bales and his associates at Cornell are working on a new visual tool for citations data. This is an area that is ripe for some innovation. There is a lot of data available but it seems difficult to gain insights from them. The prototypical question is how authoritative is a particular researcher or research group, judging from his or her or their publications. A proxy for "quality" is the...

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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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Making the world a richer place #onelesspie #PiDay

Xan Gregg and I have been at it for a number of years. To celebrate Pi Day today, I am ridding the world of one pie chart. Here is a pie chart that is found on Wikipedia: Here is the revised chart: It's been designed to highlight certain points of interest. I find the data quite educational. These are some other insights that are not clear from the revised chart:...

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