Living

160 posts
Minimum Wage and Cost of Living

We already looked at minimum wage over time, but when it comes to geography and income, you also have to consider the cost of living for a fair comparison. Read More

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Same data + same chart form  = same story. Maybe.

We love charts that tell stories. Some people believe that if they situate the data in the right chart form, the stories reveal themselves. Some people believe for a given dataset, there exists a best chart form that brings out the story. An implication of these beliefs is that the story is immutable, given the dataset and the chart form. If you use the Trifecta Checkup, you already know I...

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Dreamy Hawaii

I really enjoyed this visual story by ProPublica and Honolulu Star-Advertiser about the plight of beaches in Hawaii (link). The story begins with a beautiful invitation: This design reminds me of Vimeo's old home page. (It no longer looks like this today but this screenshot came from when I was the data guy there.) In both cases, the images are not static but moving. The tour de force of this...

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Convincing charts showing containment measures work

The disorganized nature of U.S.'s response to the coronavirus pandemic has created a sort of natural experiment that allows data journalists to explore important scientific questions, such as the impact of containment measures on cases and hospitalizations. This New York Times article represents the best of such work. The key finding of the analysis is beautifully captured by this set of scatter plots: Each dot is a state. The cases...

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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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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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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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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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Designs of two variables: map, dot plot, line chart, table

The New York Times found evidence that the richest segments of New Yorkers, presumably those with second or multiple homes, have exited the Big Apple during the early months of the pandemic. The article (link) is amply assisted by a variety of data graphics. The first few charts represent different attempts to express the headline message. Their appearance in the same article allows us to assess the relative merits of...

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