line chart

6 posts
Book Review: Visualizing with Text by Richard Barth

The creative process is sometimes described in terms of diverge-converge cycles. The diverge step involves experimentation and rewards suspending disbelief, while excesses are curbed and concepts refined during the converge step. Richard Brath's just-released book Visualizing with Text is an important resource that expands our appreciation for the place of text in visual displays. Books on data visualization fall into recognizable types, of which two popular ones are the style...

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Why you should expunge the defaults from Excel or (insert your favorite graphing program)

Yesterday, I posted the following chart in the post about Cornell's Covid-19 case rate after re-opening for in-person instruction. This is an edited version of the chart used in Peter Frazier's presentation. The original chart carries with it the burden of Excel defaults. What did I change and why? I switched away from the default color scheme, which ignores the relationships between the two lines. In particular, the key comparison...

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Election visuals: three views of FiveThirtyEight’s probabilistic forecasts

As anyone who is familiar with Nate Silver's forecasting of U.S. presidential elections knows, he runs a simulation that explores the space of possible scenarios. The polls that provide a baseline forecast make certain assumptions, such as who's a likely voter. Nate's model unshackles these assumptions from the polling data, exploring how the outcomes vary as these assumptions shift. In the most recent simulation, his computer explores 40,000 scenarios, each...

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How many details to include in a chart

This graphic by Bloomberg provides the context for understanding the severity of the Atlantic storm season. (link) At this point of the season, 2020 appears to be one of the most severe in history. I was momentarily fascinated by a feature of modern browser-based data visualization: the death of the aspect ratio. When the browser window is stretched sufficiently wide, the chart above is transformed to this look: The chart...

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On data volume, reliability, uncertainty and confidence bands

This chart from the Economist caught my eye because of the unusual use of color-coded hexagonal tiles. The basic design of the chart is easy to grasp: It relates people's "happiness" to national wealth. The thick black line shows that the average citizen of wealthier countries tends to rate their current life situation better. For readers alert to graphical details, things can get a little confusing. The horizontal "wealth" axis...

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Working with multiple dimensions, an example from Germany

An anonymous reader submitted this mirrored bar chart about violent acts by extremists in the 16 German states. At first glance, this looks like a standard design. On a second look, you might notice what the reader discovered- the chart used two different scales, one for each side. The left side (red) depicting left-wing extremism is artificially compressed relative to the right side (blue). Not sure if this reflects the...

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Cornell must remove the logs before it reopens the campus in the fall

Against all logic, Cornell announced last week it would re-open in the fall because a mathematical model under development by several faculty members and grad students predicts that a "full re-opening" would lead to 80 percent fewer infections than a scenario of full virtual instruction. That's what was reported by the media. The model is complicated, with loads of assumptions, and the report is over 50 pages long. I will...

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Presented without comment

Weekend assignment - which of these tells the story better? Or: The cop-out answer is to say both. If you must pick one, which one? *** When designing a data visualization as a living product (not static), you'd want a design that adapts as the data change.

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When the pie chart is more complex than the data

The trading house, Charles Schwab, included the following graphic in a recent article: This graphic is more complicated than the story that it illustrates. The author describes a simple scenario in which an investor divides his investments into stocks, bonds and cash. After a stock crash, the value of the portfolio declines. The graphic is a 3-D pie chart, in which the data are encoded twice, first in the areas...

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What is the price for objectivity

I knew I had to remake this chart. The simple message of this chart is hidden behind layers of visual complexity. What the analyst wants readers to focus on (as discerned from the text on the right) is the red line, the seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions due to Covid-19 in Texas. My eyes kept wandering away from the line. It's the sideway data labels on the columns....

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