Aggregation

40 posts
Pulling the multi-national story out, step by step

Reader Aleksander B. found this Economist chart difficult to understand. Given the chart title, the reader is looking for a story about multinationals producing lower return on equity than local firms. The first item displayed indicates that multinationals out-performed local firms in the technology sector. The pie charts on the right column provide additional information about the share of each sector by the type of firms. Is there a correlation...

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Choosing between individuals and aggregates

Friend/reader Thomas B. alerted me to this paper that describes some of the key chart forms used by cancer researchers. It strikes me that many of the "new" charts plot granular data at the individual level. This heatmap showing gene expressions show one column per patient: This so-called swimmer plot shows one bar per patient: This spider plot shows the progression of individual patients over time. Key events are marked...

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Water stress served two ways

Via Alberto Cairo (whose new book How Charts Lie can be pre-ordered!), I found the Water Stress data visualization by the Washington Post. (link) The main interest here is how they visualized the different levels of water stress across the U.S. Water stress is some metric defined by the Water Resources Institute that, to my mind, measures the demand versus supply of water. The higher the water stress, the higher...

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Tightening the bond between the message and the visual: hello stats-cats

The editors of ASA's Amstat News certainly got my attention, in a recent article on school counselling. A research team asked two questions. The first was HOW ARE YOU FELINE? Stats and cats. The pun got my attention and presumably also made others stop and wonder. The second question was HOW DO YOU REMEMBER FEELING while you were taking a college statistics course? Well, it's hard to imagine the average...

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Book review: Visualizing Baseball

I requested a copy of Jim Albert’s Visualizing Baseball book, which is part of the ASA-CRC series on Statistical Reasoning in Science and Society that has the explicit goal of reaching a mass audience. The best feature of Albert’s new volume is its brevity. For someone with a decent background in statistics (and grasp of basic baseball jargon), it’s a book that can be consumed within one week, after which...

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Elegant way to present a pair of charts

The Bloomberg team has come up with a few goodies lately. I was captivated by the following graphic about the ebb and flow of U.S. presidential candidates across recent campaigns. Link to the full presentation here. The highlight is at the bottom of the page. This is an excerpt of the chart: From top to bottom are the sequential presidential races. The far right vertical axis is the finish line....

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Seeking simplicity in complex data: Bloomberg’s dataviz on UK gender pay gap

Bloomberg featured a thought-provoking dataviz that illustrates the pay gap by gender in the U.K. The dataset underlying this effort is complex, and the designers did a good job simplifying the data for ease of comprehension. U.K. companies are required to submit data on salaries and bonuses by gender, and by pay quartiles. The dataset is incomplete, since some companies are slow to report, and the analyst decided not to...

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Say it thrice: a nice example of layering and story-telling

I enjoyed the New York Times's data viz showing how actively the Democratic candidates were criss-crossing the nation in the month of March (link). It is a great example of layering the presentation, starting with an eye-catching map at the most aggregate level. The designers looped through the same dataset three times. This compact display packs quite a lot. We can easily identify which were the most popular states; and...

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An exercise in decluttering

My friend Xan found the following chart by Pew hard to understand. Why is the chart so taxing to look at?  It's packing too much. I first notice the shaded areas. Shading usually signifies "look here". On this chart, the shading is highlighting the least important part of the data. Since the top line shows applicants and the bottom line admitted students, the shaded gap displays the rejections. The numbers...

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How to describe really small chances

Reader Aleksander B. sent me to the following chart in the Daily Mail, with the note that "the usage of area/bubble chart in combination with bar alignment is not very useful." (link) One can't argue with that statement. This chart fails the self-sufficiency test: anyone reading the chart is reading the data printed on the right column, and does not gain anything from the visual elements (thus, the visual representation...

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