Blog Archives

Huge Percentages Are Meaningless

April 12, 2017
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Huge Percentages Are Meaningless

Percentages are incredibly useful when talking about how something is a part of something larger: this many percent tax, that many percent of people are unemployed, etc. When percentages are much larger than 100, however, they lose their meaning and their usefulness. Unfortunately, they seem to be increasingly common. Here are a few examples of […]

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How Do We Know That? – Video of My Talk at UW

April 5, 2017
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How Do We Know That? – Video of My Talk at UW

I gave a talk at the University of Washington a few weeks ago. This is an extended version of my BELIV paper An Empire Built on Sand from last year, with more examples and a lot more jokes. You'll learn about various things we know and don't know about visualization, and also whether spinach and carrots actually […]

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ISOTYPE Book: Priestley, British Women Go To War

March 6, 2017
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ISOTYPE Book: Priestley, British Women Go To War

This is perhaps the oddest book with an ISOTYPE illustration, certainly of the ones I have seen so far. It also contains the most confusing chart produced by the ISOTYPE Institute I am aware of. The Book British Women Go To War was published in 1944. The book describes the many roles women were filling in […]

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Sonification: The Power, The Problems

March 3, 2017
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Sonification: The Power, The Problems

Sonification turns data into sound, just like visualization turns data into pictures. Except it's a lot more complicated and limited. Something about sonification has always bugged me, and I think I've finally figured out what: the crowding on the time axis. I've also recently discovered some of the powers of sonification, though. The are obviously many […]

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Encoding vs. Decoding

February 21, 2017
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Encoding vs. Decoding

Visualization techniques encode data into visual shapes and colors. We assume that what the user of a visualization does is decode those values, but things aren’t that simple. Encoding When a program draws a bar chart, it calculates the length of the bars from the numbers it’s supposed to represent. When it draws a pie […]

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Come To My Talk At UW On Tuesday, February 21

February 15, 2017
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Come To My Talk At UW On Tuesday, February 21

I'm giving a public lecture next Tuesday, February 21, at the University of Washington (UW). This is at the invitation of Professor Karen Cheng at the School of Art + Art History + Design. I will talk about what we know and what we don't know about visualization, and how we can expand our knowledge. The talk I'm preparing is an […]

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Hans Rosling: An Appreciation

February 8, 2017
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Hans Rosling: An Appreciation

Hans Rosling died earlier today (Tuesday, February 7). He championed the idea of showing people what the world was really like – and how it was different from their preconceptions – using data and visualization. And he did it with enthusiasm and humor. This is a brief appreciation of his work and legacy. Gapminder and the 2006 […]

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Let’s Crowd-Fund the Data Stories Podcast!

January 25, 2017
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Let’s Crowd-Fund the Data Stories Podcast!

Enrico and Moritz, the two hosts of the only visualization podcast in the known universe, are trying to crowd-fund their work rather than rely on advertising. If we all chip in a few dollars or euros per show, this will be easy to accomplish. You know those awkward breaks in the middle of the podcast […]

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The State of Information Visualization, 2017

January 23, 2017
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The State of Information Visualization, 2017

Between Surprise Maps, Dear Data, and election graphics, 2016 was an exciting year. There have also been some gaps, however, notably around storytelling. How far have we come, and where is visualization going? Visualizing Uncertainty Elections always bring large numbers of visualizations with them, and last year’s U.S. Presidential election was no exception. There is a […]

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ISOTYPE Book: Mackenzie, The Vital Flame

January 18, 2017
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ISOTYPE Book: Mackenzie, The Vital Flame

The first book in the new series on ISOTYPE books is The Vital Flame by Compton Mackenzie, published by The British Gas Council in 1947. It contains 42 color photographs and five ISOTYPE charts, with a nice variety of different topics and styles. A Bit of Context My copy of the book came with a […]

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