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148 posts
Visualizing fertility rates around the globe

The following chart dropped on my Twitter feed. It's an ambitious chart that tries to do a lot. The underlying data set contains fertility rate data from over 200 countries over 20 years. The basic chart form is a column chart that is curled up into a ball. The column chart is given colors that map to continents. All countries are grouped into five continents. The column chart can only...

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Ridings, polls, elections, O Canada

Stephen Taylor reached out to me about his work to visualize Canadian elections data. I took a look. I appreciate the labor of love behind this project. He led with a streamgraph, which presents a quick overview of relative party strengths over time. I am no Canadian election expert, and I did a bare minimum of research in writing this blog. From this chart, I learn that: the Canadians have...

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Simple charts are the hardest to do right

The CDC website has a variety of data graphics about many topics, one of which is U.S. vaccinations. I was looking for information about Covid-19 data broken down by age groups, and that's when I landed on these charts (link). The left panel shows people with at least one dose, and the right panel shows those who are "fully vaccinated." This simple chart takes an unreasonable amount of time to...

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Plotting the signal or the noise

Antonio alerted me to the following graphic that appeared in the Economist. This is a playful (?) attempt to draw attention to racism in the game of football (soccer). The analyst proposed that non-white players have played better in stadiums without fans due to Covid19 in 2020 because they have not been distracted by racist abuse from fans, using Italy's Serie A as the case study. The chart struggles to...

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Come si dice donut in italiano

One of my Italian readers sent me the following "horror chart". (Last I checked, it's not Halloween.) I mean, people are selling these rainbow sunglasses. The dataset behind the chart is the market share of steel production by country in 1992 and in 2014. The presumed story is how steel production has shifted from country to country over those 22 years. Before anything else, readers must decipher the colors. This...

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And you thought that pie chart was bad…

Vying for some of the worst charts of the year, Adobe came up with a few gems in its Digital Trends Survey. This was a tip from Nolan H. on Twitter. There are many charts that should be featured; I'll focus on this one. This is one of those survey questions that allow each respondent to select multiple responses so that adding up the percentages exceeds 100%. The survey asks...

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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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Atypical time order and bubble labeling

This chart appeared in a Charles Schwab magazine in Summer, 2019. This bubble chart does not print any data labels. The bubbles take our attention but the designer realizes that the actual values of the volatility are not intuitive numbers. The same is true of any standard deviation numbers. If you're told SD of a data series is 3, it doesn't tell you much by itself. I first transformed this...

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This holiday retailers hope it will snow dollars

According to the Conference Board, the pandemic will not deter U.S. consumers from emptying their wallets this holiday season. Here's a chart that shows their expectation (link):   A few little things make this chart work: The "More" category is placed on the left, as English-speaking countries tend to be read Left-to-Right, and it is also given the deepest green, drawing our attention. Only the "More" segments have data labels....

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Visualizing change over time: case study via Arstechnica

ArsTechnica published the following chart in its article titled "Grim new analyses spotlight just how hard the U.S. is failing in  pandemic" (link). There are some very good things about this chart, so let me start there. In a Trifecta Checkup, I'd give the Q corner high marks. The question is clear: how has the U.S. performed relative to other countries? In particular, the chart gives a nuanced answer to...

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