Simplicity

22 posts
Graph literacy, in a sense

Ben Jones tweeted out this chart, which has an unusual feature: What's unusual is that time runs in both directions. Usually, the rule is that time runs left to right (except, of course, in right-to-left cultures). Here, the purple area chart follows that convention while the yellow area chart inverts it. On the one hand, this is quite cute. Lines meeting in the middle. Converging. I get it. On the...

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Pulling the multi-national story out, step by step

Reader Aleksander B. found this Economist chart difficult to understand. Given the chart title, the reader is looking for a story about multinationals producing lower return on equity than local firms. The first item displayed indicates that multinationals out-performed local firms in the technology sector. The pie charts on the right column provide additional information about the share of each sector by the type of firms. Is there a correlation...

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Clearing a forest of labels

This chart by the Financial Times has a strong message, and I like a lot about it: The countries are by and large aligned along a diagonal, with the poorer countries growing strongly between 2007-2019 while the richer countries suffered negative growth. A small issue with the chart is the thick forest of text - redundant text. The sub-title, the axis titles, the quadrant labels, and the left-right-half labels all...

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Clearing a forest of labels

This chart by the Financial Times has a strong message, and I like a lot about it: The countries are by and large aligned along a diagonal, with the poorer countries growing strongly between 2007-2019 while the richer countries suffered negative growth. A small issue with the chart is the thick forest of text - redundant text. The sub-title, the axis titles, the quadrant labels, and the left-right-half labels all...

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Seeking simplicity in complex data: Bloomberg’s dataviz on UK gender pay gap

Bloomberg featured a thought-provoking dataviz that illustrates the pay gap by gender in the U.K. The dataset underlying this effort is complex, and the designers did a good job simplifying the data for ease of comprehension. U.K. companies are required to submit data on salaries and bonuses by gender, and by pay quartiles. The dataset is incomplete, since some companies are slow to report, and the analyst decided not to...

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An exercise in decluttering

My friend Xan found the following chart by Pew hard to understand. Why is the chart so taxing to look at?  It's packing too much. I first notice the shaded areas. Shading usually signifies "look here". On this chart, the shading is highlighting the least important part of the data. Since the top line shows applicants and the bottom line admitted students, the shaded gap displays the rejections. The numbers...

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The Economist on the Economist: must read now

A visual data journalist at the Economist takes a critical eye on charts published by the Economist (link). This is a must read! (Hat tip: Fernando) Here are some of my commentary on past Economist charts.

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NYT hits the trifecta with this market correction chart

Yesterday, in the front page of the Business section, the New York Times published a pair of charts that perfectly captures the story of the ongoing turbulence in the stock market. Here is the first chart: Most market observers are very concerned about the S&P entering "correction" territory, which the industry arbitrarily defines as a drop of 10% or more from a peak. This corresponds to the shortest line on...

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A second take on the rural-urban election chart

Yesterday, I looked at the following pictograms used by Business Insider in an article about the rural-urban divide in American politics: The layout of this diagram suggests that the comparison of 2010 to 2018 is a key purpose. The following alternate directly plots the change between 2010 and 2018, reducing the number of plots from 4 to 2. The 2018 results are emphasized. Then, for each party, there can be...

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The French takes back cinema but can you see it?

I like independent cinema, and here are three French films that come to mind as I write this post: Delicatessen, The Class (Entre les murs), and 8 Women (8 femmes).  The French people are taking back cinema. Even though they purchased more tickets to U.S. movies than French movies, the gap has been narrowing in the last two decades. How do I know? It's the subject of this infographic:  How do I...

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