Trifecta checkup

18 posts
Shocker: ease of use requires expanding, not restricting, choices

Recently, I noted how we have to learn to hate defaults in data visualization software. I was reminded again of this point when reviewing this submission from long-time reader & contributor Chris P. The chart is included in this Medium article, which credits Mott Capital Management as the source. Look at the axis labels on the right side. They have the hallmarks of software defaults. The software designer decided that...

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A pretty good chart ruined by some naive analysis

The following chart showing wage gaps by gender among U.S. physicians was sent to me via Twitter: The original chart was published by the Stat News website (link). I am most curious about the source of the data. It apparently came from a website called Doximity, which collects data from physicians. Here is a link to the PR release related to this compensation dataset. However, the data is not freely...

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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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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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An enjoyable romp through the movies

Chris P. tipped me about this wonderful webpage containing an analysis of high-grossing movies. The direct link is here. First, a Trifecta checkup: This thoughtful web project integrates beautifully rendered, clearly articulated graphics with the commendable objective of bringing data to the conversation about gender and race issues in Hollywood, an ambitious goal that it falls short of achieving because the data only marginally address the question at hand. There...

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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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Here are the cool graphics from the election

There were some very nice graphics work published during the last few days of the U.S. presidential election. Let me tell you why I like the following four charts. FiveThirtyEight's snake chart This chart definitely hits the Trifecta. It is narrowly focused on the pivotal questions of election night: which candidate is leading? if current projections hold, which candidate would win? how is the margin of victory? The chart is...

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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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A Tufte fix for austerity

Trish, who attended one of my recent data visualization workshops, submitted a link to the Illinois Atlas of Austerity. Shown on the right is one of the charts included in the presentation. This is an example of a chart that fails my self-sufficiency test. There is no chance that readers are getting any information out of the graphical elements (the figurines of 100 people each). Everyone who tries to learn...

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