Row-Level Thinking vs. Cube Thinking

Our mental model of a dataset changes the way we ask questions. One aspect of that is the shape of the data (long or wide); an equally important issue is whether we think of the data as a collection of rows of numbers that we can aggregate bottom-up, or as a complete dataset that we can slice top-down to ask questions. Continue reading Row-Level Thinking vs. Cube Thinking

3D Bar Charts Considered Not That Harmful

We’ve turned the understanding of charts into formulas instead of encouraging people to think and ask questions. That doesn’t produce better charts, it just gives people ways of feeling superior by parroting something about chart junk or 3D being bad. There is little to no research to back these things up. Continue reading 3D Bar Charts Considered Not That Harmful

Spreadsheet Thinking vs. Database Thinking

The shape of a dataset is hugely important to how well it can be handled by different software. The shape defines how it is laid out: wide as in a spreadsheet, or long as in a database table. Each has its use, but it’s important to understand their differences and when each is the right choice. Continue reading Spreadsheet Thinking vs. Database Thinking

The Personified User Interface Trap

Personified user interfaces, like chat bots or agents, are the new thing once again. But despite advances in artificial intelligence, they still have many issues and drawbacks compared to direct-manipulation interfaces. There was a debate around these interfaces in the 1990s, and it seems to be bound to repeat itself. Continue reading The Personified User Interface Trap

Links: Scott Klein on the History of Data Journalism

The history of data journalism goes back much farther than most people assume. Long before computers or punch cards, and before even the first newspapers the way we know them today, data was being published. ProPublica’s Scott Klein has been digging up a lot of interesting history. Continue reading Links: Scott Klein on the History of Data Journalism