Clustering

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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It’s hot even in Alaska

A twitter user pointed to the following chart, which shows that Alaska has experienced extreme heat this summer, with the July statewide average temperature shattering the previous record; This column chart is clear in its primary message: the red column shows that the average temperature this year is quite a bit higher than the next highest temperature, recorded in July 2004. The error bar is useful for statistically-literate people -...

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The Periodic Table, a challenge in information organization

Reader Chris P. points me to this article about the design of the Periodic Table. I then learned that 2019 is the “International Year of the Periodic Table,” according to the United Nations. Here is the canonical design of the Periodic Table that science students are familiar with. (Source: Wikipedia.) The Periodic Table is an exercise of information organization and display. It's about adding structure to over 100 elements, so...

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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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Appreciating population mountains

Tim Harford tweeted about a nice project visualizing of the world's distribution of population, and wondered why he likes it so much.  That's the question we'd love to answer on this blog! Charts make us emotional - some we love, some we hate. We like to think that designers can control those emotions, via design choices. I also happen to like the "Population Mountains" project as well. It fits nicely...

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Appreciating population mountains

Tim Harford tweeted about a nice project visualizing of the world's distribution of population, and wondered why he likes it so much.  That's the question we'd love to answer on this blog! Charts make us emotional - some we love, some we hate. We like to think that designers can control those emotions, via design choices. I also happen to like the "Population Mountains" project as well. It fits nicely...

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The merry-go-round of investment bankers

Here is the start of my blog post about the chart I teased the other day:   Today's post deals with the following chart, which appeared recently at Business Insider (hat tip: my sister). It's immediately obvious that this chart requires a heroic effort to decipher. The question shown in the chart title "How many senior investment bankers left their firms?" is the easiest to answer, as the designer places the number...

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Message-first visualization

Sneaky Pete via Twitter sent me the following chart, asking for guidance: This is a pretty standard dataset, frequently used in industry. It shows a breakdown of a company's profit by business unit, here classified by "state". The profit projection for the next year is measured on both absolute dollar terms and year-on-year growth. Since those two metrics have completely different scales, in both magnitude and unit, it is common...

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Digital revolution in China: two visual takes

The following map accompanied an article in the Economist about China's drive to create a "digital silkroad," roughly defined as making a Silicon Valley.  The two variables plotted are the wealth of each province (measured by GDP per capita) and the level of Internet penetration. The designer made the following choices: GDP per capita is presented with less precision than Internet penetration. The former is grouped into five large categories...

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Discoloring the chart to re-discover its plot

Today's chart comes from Pew Research Center, and the big question is why the colors? The data show the age distributions of people who believe different religions. It's a stacked bar chart, in which the ages have been grouped into the young (under 15), the old (60 plus) and everyone else. Five religions are afforded their own bars while "folk" religions are grouped as one, and so have "other" religions....

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