Story: A Definition


What makes a story? What does a story do? In part one of this little series, I argued that stories and worlds are not opposites, but complements. In this part, I try to explain the differences between worlds and stories, and present a definition.

Stories Are Gateways Into Worlds


Moritz Stefaner recently wrote a posting titled Worlds, not stories. He basically argues that while there is a clear role for the designer of a visualization, the result should be a world that users can explore, rather than a story that they’re told. I have a few things to say about this, and will do so in two parts. This is part one.

The Mirrored Line Chart Is A Bad Idea

Worker Benefits

The mirrored line chart is a pet peeve of mine. It’s very common close to elections when there are two parties or candidates: one’s gains are at the other’s expense. But it becomes even more egregious when there are two categories that have to sum up to 100% by their very definition.

The State of Information Visualization, 2014

The Oregonian, Trimet's Long Days

2013 was another exciting year for visualization. Between many new developments in data storytelling, a new wave of news graphics, new visualization blogs, better automated infographics, and visuals designed to hit you hard, it is difficult to decide what was most important. Here is a look back, and some ideas about where we’re going.

WTFViz, ThumbsUpViz, and HelpMeViz


I have complained, repeatedly, about the lack of good online resources for visualization; in particular, when it comes to discussion and critical reflection. Also, where can you go to get help with a visualization project? A few recent websites are tackling these issues in different ways.

Scaling An Axis to Make A Point

Female CEOs Keller

A clever chart redesign last week got a lot of people talking about which one is “right.” What is more interesting to me is not which one is (supposedly) the better representation of the truth, but which purpose each one serves.

A Lack of Communication and Visibility

Finding visualization projects and pretty pictures on the web isn’t exactly difficult, but what about actual research? What if you wanted to know what’s going on in visualization, and get a sense of what current work is the most interesting? There is no resource for this that I’m aware of, but there should be.

A Guide to the Quality of Different Visualization Venues

Discussing a poster

I recently got an email from a colleague with the subject, “Academic research, is it all bad?” He had looked at a paper presented at a VIS workshop that people were pointing to on Twitter, and had found it lacking (“it’s just a blog posting”). While there are high-quality venues for visualization research, it’s not easy to be sure which ones are good, and which ones are lower quality.