Who trades with Sweden

It's great that the UN is publishing dataviz but it can do better than this effort: Certain problems are obvious. The country names turned sideways. The meaningless use of color. The inexplicable sequencing of the country/region. Some problems are subtler. "Area, nes" - upon research - is a custom term used by UN Trade Statistics, meaning "not elsewhere specified". The gridlines are debatable. Their function is to help readers figure...

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A German obstacle course

A twitter user sent me this chart from Germany. It came with a translation: "Explanation: The chart says how many car drivers plan to purchase a new state-sponsored ticket for public transport. And of those who do, how many plan to use their car less often." Because visual language should be universal, we shouldn't be deterred by not knowing German. The structure of the data can be readily understood: we...

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Variance is a friend of dataviz

Seven years ago, I wrote a post about "invariance" in data visualization, which is something we should avoid (link). Yesterday, Business Insider published the following chart in an article about rising gas prices (link): The map shows the average prices at the pump in seven regions of the United States.  This chart is succeeded by the following map: This second map shows the change in average gas prices in the...

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What does Elon Musk do every day?

The Wall Street Journal published a fun little piece about tweets by Elon Musk (link). Here is an overview of every tweet he sent since he started using Twitter more than a decade ago. Apparently, he sent at least one tweet almost every day for the last four years. In addition, his tweets appear at all hours of the day. (Presumably, he is not the only one tweeting from his...

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Light entertainment: politics down under

Pictures speak louder than words

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Selecting the right analysis plan is the first step to good dataviz

It's a new term, and my friend Ray Vella shared some student projects from his NYU class on infographics. There's always something to learn from these projects. The starting point is a chart published in the Economist a few years ago. This is a challenging chart to read. To save you the time, the following key points are pertinent: a) income inequality is measured by the disparity between regional averagesb)...

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Deficient deficit depiction

A twitter user alerted me to this chart put out by the Biden adminstration trumpeting a reduction in the budget deficit from 2020 to 2021: This column chart embodies a form that is popular in many presentations, including in scientific journals. It's deficient in so many ways it's a marvel how it continues to live. There are just two numbers: -3132 and -2772. Their difference is $360 billion, which is...

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Superb tile map offering multiple avenues for exploration

Here's a beauty by WSJ Graphics: The article is here. This data graphic illustrates the power of the visual medium. The underlying dataset is complex: power production by type of source by state by month by year. That's more than 90,000 numbers. They all reside on this graphic. Readers amazingly make sense of all these numbers without much effort. It starts with the summary chart on top. The designer made...

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Funnel is just for fun

This is part 2 of a review of a recent video released by NASA. Part 1 is here. The NASA video that starts with the spiral chart showing changes in average global temperature takes a long time (about 1 minute) to run through 14 decades of data, and for those who are patient, the chart then undergoes a dramatic transformation. With a sleight of hand, the chart went from a...

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What do I think about spirals?

A twitter user asked how I feel about this latest effort (from NASA) to illustrate global warming. To see the entire video, go to their website. This video hides the lede so be patient or jump ahead to 0:56 and watch till the end. Let's first describe what we are seeing. The dataset consists of monthly average global temperature "anomalies" from 1880 to 2021 - an "anomaly" is the deviation...

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