How do we read pie charts? Do they differ from the even more reviled donut charts? What about common pie chart designs like exploded pies? In two papers to be presented at EuroVis next week, Drew Skau and I show that the common wisdom about how we read these charts (by angle) is almost certainly wrong, and that things are much more complicated than we thought. Continue reading A Pair of Pie Chart Papers
Scrollytelling is a common way of interacting with stories these days. Scroll down and the story unfolds! Except it’s often awkward, brittle, and gets in the way. Continue reading The Scrollytelling Scourge
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
The OpenVis Conference had another great selection of talks this year. Here is a list of my favorites, with talk videos and pointers to some additional materials.
The 6th edition of Designing the User Interface just came out. This is one of the central books in HCI. This edition is also notable because it adds a lot of fresh blood to the list of authors. Continue reading New Edition of Designing the User Interface
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
I have started a new blog, which I call shift register. It’s about electronics projects I’m doing, mostly building circuits on breadboards and playing with Arduinos.
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
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