Current Affairs

160 posts
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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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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Charts that ask questions about the German election

In the prior post about Canadian elections, I suggested that designers expand beyond plots of one variable at a time. Today, I look at a project by DataWrapper on the German elections which happened this week. Thanks to long-time blog supporter Antonio for submitting the chart. The following is the centerpiece of Lisa's work: CDU/CSU is Angela Merkel's party, represented by the black color. The chart answers one question only:...

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Ridings, polls, elections, O Canada

Stephen Taylor reached out to me about his work to visualize Canadian elections data. I took a look. I appreciate the labor of love behind this project. He led with a streamgraph, which presents a quick overview of relative party strengths over time. I am no Canadian election expert, and I did a bare minimum of research in writing this blog. From this chart, I learn that: the Canadians have...

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Probabilities and proportions: which one is the chart showing

The New York Times showed this chart (link): My first read: oh my gosh, 40-50% of the unvaccinated Americans are living their normal lives - dining at restaurants, assembling with more than 10 people, going to religious gatherings. After reading the text around this chart, I realize I have misinterpreted it. The chart should be read by columns. Each column is a "pie chart". For example, the first column shows...

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Is this an example of good or bad dataviz?

This chart is giving me feelings: I first saw it on TV and then a reader submitted it. Let's apply a Trifecta Checkup to the chart. Starting at the Q corner, I can say the question it's addressing is clear and relevant. It's the relationship between Trump and McConnell's re-election. The designer's intended message comes through strongly - the chart offers evidence that McConnell owes his re-election to Trump. Visually,...

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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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