Current Affairs

25 posts
Deaths as percent neither of cases nor of population. Deaths as percent of normal.

Yesterday, I posted a note about excess deaths on the book blog (link). The post was inspired by a nice data visualization by the New York Times (link). This is a great example of data journalism. Excess deaths is a superior metric for measuring the effect of Covid-19 on public health. It's better than deaths as percent of cases. Also better than percent of the population.What excess deaths measure is...

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Everything in Texas is big, but not this BIG

Long-time reader John forwarded the following chart via Twitter. The chart shows the recent explosive growth in deaths due to Covid-19 in Texas. John flagged this graphic as yet another example in which the data are encoded to the lengths of the squares, not their areas. Fixing this chart just requires fixing the length of one side of the square. I also flipped it to make a conventional column chart....

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Hope and reality in one Georgia chart

Over the weekend, Georgia's State Health Department agitated a lot of people when it published the following chart: (This might have appeared a week ago as the last date on the chart is May 9 and the title refers to "past 15 days".) They could have avoided the embarrassment if they had read my article at DataJournalism.com (link). In that article, I lay out a set of the "unspoken conventions,"...

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This exercise plan for your lock-down work-out is inspired by Venn

A twitter follower did not appeciate this chart from Nature showing the collection of flu-like symptoms that people reported they have to an UK tracking app.  It's a super-complicated Venn diagram. I have written about this type of chart before (see here); it appears to be somewhat popular in the medicine/biology field. A Venn diagram is not a data visualization because it doesn't plot the data. Notice that the different...

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Graphing the extreme

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about extremes. So many events have never happened before. I doubt The Conference Board has previously seen the collapse of confidence in the economy by CEOs. Here is their graphic showing this extreme event: To appreciate this effort, you have to see the complexity of the underlying data. There is a CEO Confidence Measure. The measure has three components. Each component is scored on a...

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The hidden bad assumption behind most dual-axis time-series charts

DC sent me the following chart over Twitter. It supposedly showcases one sector that has bucked the economic collapse, and has conversely been boosted by the stay-at-home orders around the world. At first glance, I was drawn to the yellow line and the axis title on the right side. I understood the line to depict the growth rate in traffic "vs a normal day". The trend is clear as day....

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The why axis

A few weeks ago, I replied to a tweet by someone who was angered by the amount of bad graphics about coronavirus. I take a glass-half-full viewpoint: it's actually heart-warming for  dataviz designers to realize that their graphics are being read! When someone critiques your work, it is proof that they cared enough to look at it. Worse is when you publish something, and no one reacts to it. That...

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Make your color legend better with one simple rule

The pie chart about COVID-19 worries illustrates why we should follow a basic rule of constructing color legends: order the categories in the way you expect readers to encounter them. Here is the chart that I discussed the other day, with the data removed since they are not of concern in this post. (link) First look at the pie chart. Like me, you probably looked at the orange or the...

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Graphing the economic crisis of coronavirus 2

Last week, I discussed Ray's chart that compares the S&P 500 performance in this crisis against previous crises. A reminder: Another useful feature is the halo around the right edge of the COVID-19 line. This device directs our eyes to where he wants us to look. In the same series, he made the following for The Conference Board (link): Two things I learned from this chart: The oil market takes...

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When the visual runs away from the data

The pressure of the coronavirus news cycle has gotten the better of some graphics designers. Via Twitter, Mark B sent me the following chart: I applied the self-sufficiency test to this pie chart. That's why you can't see the data which were also printed on the chart. The idea of self-sufficiency is to test how much work the visual elements of the graphic are doing to convey its message. Look...

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