Living

39 posts
Choosing between individuals and aggregates

Friend/reader Thomas B. alerted me to this paper that describes some of the key chart forms used by cancer researchers. It strikes me that many of the "new" charts plot granular data at the individual level. This heatmap showing gene expressions show one column per patient: This so-called swimmer plot shows one bar per patient: This spider plot shows the progression of individual patients over time. Key events are marked...

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As Dorian confounds meteorologists, we keep our minds clear on hurricane graphics, and discover correlation as our friend

As Hurricane Dorian threatens the southeastern coast of the U.S., forecasters are fretting about the lack of consensus among various predictive models used to predict the storm’s trajectory. The uncertainty of these models, as reflected in graphical displays, has been a controversial issue in the visualization community for some time. Let’s start by reviewing a visual design that has captured meteorologists in recent years, something known as the cone map....

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Water stress served two ways

Via Alberto Cairo (whose new book How Charts Lie can be pre-ordered!), I found the Water Stress data visualization by the Washington Post. (link) The main interest here is how they visualized the different levels of water stress across the U.S. Water stress is some metric defined by the Water Resources Institute that, to my mind, measures the demand versus supply of water. The higher the water stress, the higher...

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Women workers taken for a loop or four

I was drawn to the following chart in Business Insider because of the calendar metaphor. (The accompanying article is here.) Sometimes, the calendar helps readers grasp concepts faster but I'm afraid the usage here slows us down. The underlying data consist of just four numbers: the wage gaps between race and gender in the U.S., considered simply from an aggregate median personal income perspective. The analyst adopts the median annual...

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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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Powerful photos visualizing housing conditions in Hong Kong

I was going to react to Alberto's post about the New York Times's article about economic inequality in Hong Kong, which is proposed as one origin to explain the current protest movement. I agree that the best graphic in this set is the "photoviz" showing the "coffins" or "cages" that many residents live in, because of the population density.  Then I searched the archives, and found this old post from...

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Morphing small multiples to investigate Sri Lanka’s religions

Earlier this month, the bombs in Sri Lanka led to some data graphics in the media, educating us on the religious tensions within the island nation. I like this effort by Reuters using small multiples to show which religions are represented in which districts of Sri Lanka (lifted from their twitter feed): The key to reading this map is the top legend. From there, you'll notice that many of the...

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Is the visual serving the question?

The following chart concerns California's bullet train project. Now, look at the bubble chart at the bottom. Here it is - with all the data except the first number removed: It is impossible to know how fast the four other train systems run after I removed the numbers. The only way a reader can comprehend this chart is to read the data inside the bubbles. This chart fails the "self-sufficiency...

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Transforming the data to fit the message

A short time ago, there were reports that some theme-park goers were not happy about the latest price hike by Disney. One of these report, from the Washington Post (link), showed a chart that was intended to convey how much Disney park prices have outpaced inflation. Here is the chart: I had a lot of trouble processing this chart. The two lines are labeled "original price" and "in 2014 dollars"....

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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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