Trifecta checkup

117 posts
The discontent of circular designs

You have two numbers +84% and -25%. The textbook method to visualize this pair is to plot two bars. One bar in the positive direction, the other in the negative direction. The chart is clear (more on the analysis later). But some find this graphic ugly. They don’t like straight lines, right angles and such. They prefer circles, and bends. Like PBS, who put out the following graphic that was...

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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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The hidden bad assumption behind most dual-axis time-series charts

DC sent me the following chart over Twitter. It supposedly showcases one sector that has bucked the economic collapse, and has conversely been boosted by the stay-at-home orders around the world. At first glance, I was drawn to the yellow line and the axis title on the right side. I understood the line to depict the growth rate in traffic "vs a normal day". The trend is clear as day....

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An exposed seam in the crystal ball of coronavirus recovery

One of the questions being asked by the business community is when the economy will recover and how. The Conference Board has offered their outlook in this new article. (This link takes you to the collection of Covid-19 related graphics. You have to find the right one from the carousel. I can't seem to find the direct link to that page.) This chart summarizes their viewpoint: They considered three scenarios,...

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When the visual runs away from the data

The pressure of the coronavirus news cycle has gotten the better of some graphics designers. Via Twitter, Mark B sent me the following chart: I applied the self-sufficiency test to this pie chart. That's why you can't see the data which were also printed on the chart. The idea of self-sufficiency is to test how much work the visual elements of the graphic are doing to convey its message. Look...

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The epidemic of simple comparisons

Another day, another Twitter user sent a sloppy chart featured on TV news. This CNN graphic comes from Hugo K. by way of Kevin T. And it's another opportunity to apply the self-sufficiency test. Like before, I removed the data printed on the graphic. In reading this chart, we like to know the number of U.S. reported cases of coronavirus relative to China, and Italy relative to the U.S. So,...

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Bad data leave chart hanging by the thread

IGNITE National put out a press release saying that Gen Z white men are different from all other race-gender groups because they are more likely to be or lean Republican. The evidence is in this chart: Or is it? Following our Trifecta Checkup framework (link), let's first look at the data. White men is the bottom left group. Democratic = 42%, Independent = 28%, Republican = 48%. That's a total...

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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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