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75 posts
The ebb and flow of an effective dataviz showing the rise and fall of GE

A WSJ chart caught my eye the other day – I spotted someone looking at it in a coffee shop, and immediately got a hold of a copy. The chart plots the ebb and flow of GE’s revenues from the 1980s to the present. What grabbed my attention? The less-used chart form, and the appealing but not too gaudy color scheme. The chart presents a highly digestible view of the...

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Environmental science can use better graphics

Mike A. pointed me to two animated maps made by Caltech researchers published in LiveScience (here). The first map animation shows the rise and fall of water levels in a part of California over time. It's an impressive feat of stitching together satellite images. Click here to play the video. The animation grabs your attention. I'm not convinced by the right side of the color scale in which the white...

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Visualizing the Thai cave rescue operation

The Thai cave rescue was a great story with a happy ending. It's also one that lends itself to visualization. A good visualization can explain the rescue operation more efficiently than mere words. A good visual should bring out the most salient features of the story, such as: Why the operation was so daunting? What were the tactics used to overcome those challenges? How long did it take? What were...

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Graphical advice for conference presenters – demo

Yesterday, I pulled this graphic from a journal paper, and said one should not copy and paste this into an oral presentation. So I went ahead and did some cosmetic surgery on this chart. I don't know anything about the underlying science. I'm just interpreting what I see on the chart. It seems like the key message is that the Flowering condition is different from the other three. There are...

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Graphical advice for conference presenters

I've attended a number of talks in the last couple of days at the Joint Statistical Meetings. I'd like to offer some advice to presenters using graphics in their presentations. Here is an example of the style of graphics that are being presented. (Note: I deliberately picked an example from a Google image search - this graphic was not used in a presentation but is representative of those I've seen.)...

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Two good charts can use better titles

NPR has this chart, which I like: It's a small multiples of bumps charts. Nice, clear labels. No unnecessary things like axis labels. Intuitive organization by Major Factor, Minor Factor, and Not a Factor. Above all, the data convey a strong, surprising, message - despite many high-profile gun violence incidents this year, some Democratic voters are actually much less likely to see guns as a "major factor" in deciding their...

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What Makes People the Most Happy

It's in the details of 100,000 moments. I analyzed the crowd-sourced corpus to see what brought the most smiles. Read More

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Vector paths of meaning between words and phrases

Benjamin Schmidt, an assistant professor of history at Northeastern University, explored the space between words and drew the paths to get from one word to another. The above, for example, is the path between Seinfeld and Breaking Bad. Using Google News as the corpus, the steps: Take any two words. I used “duck” and “soup” for my testing. Find a word that is, in cosine distance, between the two words:...

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Playfulness in data visualization

The Newslab project takes aggregate data from Google's various services and finds imaginative ways to enliven the data. The Beautiful in English project makes a strong case for adding playfulness to your data visualization. The data came from Google Translate. The authors look at 10 languages, and the top 10 words users ask to translate from those languages into English. The first chart focuses on the most popular word for...

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Lines, gridlines, reference lines, regression lines, the works

This post is part 2 of an appreciation of the chart project by Google Newslab, advised by Alberto Cairo, on the gender and racial diversity of the newsroom. Part 1 can be read here. In the previous discussion, I left out the following scatter bubble plot. This plot is available in two versions, one for gender and one for race. The key question being asked is whether the leadership in...

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