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Putting vaccine trials in boxes

Bloomberg Businessweek has a special edition about vaccines, and I found this chart on the print edition: The chart's got a lot of white space. Its structure is a series of simple "treemaps," one for each type of vaccine. Though simple, such a chart burns a few brain cells. Here, I've extracted the largest block, which corresponds to vaccines that work with the virus's RNA/DNA. I applied a self-sufficiency test,...

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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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Reduced mail sorting capacity

The United States Postal Service is losing mail sorting machines — as an election during a pandemic gets closer. The Washington Post reports on what they know so far, including the map above on reduced sorting capacity. Tags: election, sorting, USPS, Washington Post

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Ask how you can give

A reader and colleague was frustrated with the following graphic that appeared in the otherwise commendable article in National Geographic (link). The NatGeo article provides a history lesson on past pandemics that killed millions. What does the design want to convey to readers? Our attention is drawn to the larger objects, the red triangle on the left or the green triangle on the right. Regarding the red triangle, we learn...

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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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Twitter people UpSet with that Covid symptoms diagram

Been busy with an exciting project, which I might talk about one day. But I promised some people I'll follow up on Covid symptoms data visualization, so here it is. After I posted about the Venn diagram used to depict self-reported Covid-19 symptoms by users of the Covid Symptom Tracker app (reported by Nature), Xan and a few others alerted me to Twitter discussion about alternative visualizations that people have...

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Make your color legend better with one simple rule

The pie chart about COVID-19 worries illustrates why we should follow a basic rule of constructing color legends: order the categories in the way you expect readers to encounter them. Here is the chart that I discussed the other day, with the data removed since they are not of concern in this post. (link) First look at the pie chart. Like me, you probably looked at the orange or the...

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Pie chart conventions

I came across this pie chart from a presentation at an industry meeting some weeks ago: This example breaks a number of the unspoken conventions on making pie charts and so it is harder to read than usual. Notice that the biggest slice starts around 8 o'clock, and the slices are ordered alphabetically by the label, rather than numerically by size of the slice. The following is the same chart...

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Gazing at petals

Reader Murphy pointed me to the following infographic developed by Altmetric to explain their analytics of citations of journal papers. These metrics are alternative in that they arise from non-academic media sources, such as news outlets, blogs, twitter, and reddit. The key graphic is the petal diagram with a number in the middle. I have a hard time thinking of this object as “data visualization”. Data visualization should visualize the...

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Bubble charts, ratios and proportionality

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal about a challenger to the dominant weedkiller, Roundup, contains a nice selection of graphics. (Dicamba is the up-and-comer.) The change in usage of three brands of weedkillers is rendered as a small-multiples of choropleth maps. This graphic displays geographical and time changes simultaneously. The staircase chart shows weeds have become resistant to Roundup over time. This is considered a weakness in the...

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