Blog Archives

Nassi-Shneiderman Diagrams

August 29, 2016
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Nassi-Shneiderman Diagrams

Programming languages use words and symbols to represent structures like blocks and conditions. A visual representation of these structures seems useful to keep track of all the different cases, see the scope of variables, etc. Nassi-Shneiderman diagrams offer just such a representation. The structure of programs is sometimes shown using flow charts: decisions create branches, repetitions can … Continue reading Nassi-Shneiderman Diagrams

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Stacked Bars Are the Worst

August 25, 2016
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Stacked Bars Are the Worst

Bar charts are great. They always work. They're always the safe choice. Right? Well, no. Stacked bar charts are deceiving because we think they work just like regular bars, when they're really pretty terrible. Some Examples Look at the following chart, showing unemployment numbers for Bavaria. The total height of the bars is easy enough … Continue reading Stacked Bars Are the Worst

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Two Ideas for a Better Visualization Web

August 17, 2016
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Two Ideas for a Better Visualization Web

There is a reasonable amount of information about visualization available on the web. There are still huge gaps though, especially when it comes to bridging the gap between academic research and the rest of the world, though. Here are two ideas: one simple, one rather involved. Ben Shneiderman has recently been talking to a number of … Continue reading Two Ideas for a Better Visualization Web

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The Repetitive and Boring History of Visualization

August 15, 2016
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The Repetitive and Boring History of Visualization

When people talk about the history of data visualization, the same set of names always comes up: Playfair, Nightingale, Snow, Minard. They are historically important, alright, but why do they overshadow all the other work that was done? And what do we know about how important they actually were? The Usual Suspects They’re like old … Continue reading The Repetitive and Boring History of Visualization

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Link: Our World in Data

August 10, 2016
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Link: Our World in Data

Our World in Data looks at a wide variety of data about the world: health, population, energy, growth, inequality, etc. Max Roser and his colleagues dig through the vast amounts of open data to find many interesting connections and insights. As an example, this recent posting on healthcare spending vs. life expectancy uses a connected scatterplot to show … Continue reading Link: Our World in Data

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The Bits Are Rotting in the State of Data Journalism

July 14, 2016
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The Bits Are Rotting in the State of Data Journalism

News articles are an incredibly important source of historical information. Online media and interactive pieces are much more at risk of breaking of disappearing, at least in theory. Well, it's not just theory. A quick look around shows a number of even fairly recent pieces in major publications that are broken today. The screenshot above is from … Continue reading The Bits Are Rotting in the State of Data Journalism

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A Reanalysis of A Study About (Square) Pie Charts from 2009

July 11, 2016
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A Reanalysis of A Study About (Square) Pie Charts from 2009

After my recent posting on the results of our pie charts studies, Jorge Camoes teased me on Twitter about square pie charts. So I dug up the data from a study we ran many years ago to look at how well they compare to bars, pies, and squares. In 2009, my then-Ph.D. student Caroline Ziemkiewicz and … Continue reading A Reanalysis of A Study About (Square) Pie Charts from 2009

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Link: Mona Chalabi’s Data Sketches on Instagram

July 7, 2016
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Link: Mona Chalabi’s Data Sketches on Instagram

Mona Chalabi has one of the most interesting Instagram feeds for people interested in data visualization. She draws data by hand. It's interesting data, too, and her approach is accessible and inspiring. Mona is data editor at Guardian US, and was formerly at FiveThirtyEight and before that at The Guardian in the UK.   Her sketches … Continue reading Link: Mona Chalabi’s Data Sketches on Instagram

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New, Improved Traveling Presidential Candidate Map

July 5, 2016
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New, Improved Traveling Presidential Candidate Map

Many years ago, when this website was still young, I created a map of all the ZIP codes in the U.S. in numeric order and then wondered about the shortest path through all of them. I dubbed that The Traveling Presidential Candidate Map. Here is an improved version that’s interactive and much more efficient than the … Continue reading New, Improved Traveling Presidential Candidate Map

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The Café Wall Illusion in a Bar Chart

June 30, 2016
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The Café Wall Illusion in a Bar Chart

The Café Wall Illusion makes you to see perfectly parallel lines as being at an angle. It’s a curiosity and a cool perceptual illusion – except when it shows up in a bar chart, as it did in this example. The classic café wall illusion was first spotted on a tiled wall, where the misaligned black … Continue reading The Café Wall Illusion in a Bar Chart

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