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79 posts
Light entertainment: I am a pen and I object

You've got to look out for conflicts on your dataviz! Example from Explosm courtesy of reader Chris P. Color says one thing. Face says something else. Words agree with Color. Pen objects.

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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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Discoloring the chart to re-discover its plot

Today's chart comes from Pew Research Center, and the big question is why the colors? The data show the age distributions of people who believe different religions. It's a stacked bar chart, in which the ages have been grouped into the young (under 15), the old (60 plus) and everyone else. Five religions are afforded their own bars while "folk" religions are grouped as one, and so have "other" religions....

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The tech world in which everyone is below average

Laura pointed me to an infographic about tech worker salaries in major tech hubs (link). What's wrong with this map? The box "Global average" is doubly false. It is not global, and it is not the average! The only non-American cities included in this survey are Toronto, Paris and London. The only city with average salary above the "Global average" is San Francisco Bay Area. Since the Bay Area does...

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When your main attraction is noise

Peter K. asked me about this 538 chart, which is a stacked column chart in which the percentages appear to not add up to 100%. Link to the article here. Here's my reply: They made the columns so tall that the "rounding errors" (noise) disclosed in the footnotes became the main attraction. *** The gap between the highest and lowest peaks looks large but mostly due to the aspect ratio....

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A chart Hans Rosling would have loved

I came across this chart from the OurWorldinData website, and this one would make the late Hans Rosling very happy. If you went to Professor Rosling's talk, he was bitter that the amazing gains in public health, worldwide (but particularly in less developed nations) during the last few decades have been little noticed. This chart makes it clear: note especially the dramatic plunge in extreme poverty, rise in vaccinations, drop...

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Getting into the heads of the chart designer

When I look at this chart (from Business Insider), I try to understand the decisions made by its designer - which things are important to her/him, and which things are less important. The chart shows average salaries in the top 2 percent of income earners. The data are split by gender and by state. First, I notice that the designer chooses to use the map form. This decision suggests that...

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A long view of hurricanes

This chart by Axios is well made. The full version is here. It's easy to identify all the Cat 5 hurricanes. Only important ones are labeled. The other labels are hidden behind the hover. The chart provides a good answer to the question: what time of the year does the worst hurricanes strike. It's harder to compare the maximum speeds of the hurricanes. I wish there is a way to...

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Shocker: ease of use requires expanding, not restricting, choices

Recently, I noted how we have to learn to hate defaults in data visualization software. I was reminded again of this point when reviewing this submission from long-time reader & contributor Chris P. The chart is included in this Medium article, which credits Mott Capital Management as the source. Look at the axis labels on the right side. They have the hallmarks of software defaults. The software designer decided that...

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A pretty good chart ruined by some naive analysis

The following chart showing wage gaps by gender among U.S. physicians was sent to me via Twitter: The original chart was published by the Stat News website (link). I am most curious about the source of the data. It apparently came from a website called Doximity, which collects data from physicians. Here is a link to the PR release related to this compensation dataset. However, the data is not freely...

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