Unit charts are not common in visualization, and they are often considered a bad idea. The same is true for using shapes other than rectangles. Neither is based on much actual research, however. In a new paper, we look at the specific example of ISOTYPE-style charts – and find them to be quite effective.
Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg have written a wonderful piece titled Design and Redesign in Data Visualization about criticism in data visualization. They thoughtfully analyze the practice and point out some of the issues when people create redesigns, including intellectual honesty and perfect hindsight.
They then go on to define some “rules of engagement” for a more reasonable approach to redesign. They argue for a kinder, more respectful, and more balanced process. Their ideas are informed by the critique in design and certainly make a lot of sense for visualization. Continue reading Link: Design and Redesign in Data Visualization
Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec are collaborating on a clever and beautiful new project they call Dear Data (Twitter account). Every week, they are sending post cards to each other with hand-drawn visualizations of data they have gathered: public transportation, ways they communicate, etc.
Scott Klein of ProPublica has written a great story about an early use of data in journalism, and Horace Greeley, the colorful journalist behind it. Greeley found an issue and then gathered the data to show the extent of the problem. This is not unlike today.
In Greeley’s case, the issue was how much money members of Congress were paid for their travels to their home states, despite modern conveniences like railroads that made those journeys much faster than they had been in the past.
The story is very well written and represents an important piece of history and context for today’s practice of data journalism.
In watches, a complication is anything that goes beyond the basic function of showing the current time: alarm time, moon phase, etc. I think the term should be adopted in user interface design and visualization. Continue reading Complications
I’ve written a short piece about the Tapestry conference for the Graphically Speaking column in Computer Graphics and Applications. The article talks about the reasoning behind Tapestry, how it’s different from academic conferences, and gives a few examples of talks. It even includes anecdotal evidence to show that the conference has enabled actual knowledge transfer. Continue reading Link: CG&A Article on Tapestry
Showing data isn’t always about trying to convey an insight, or giving people the means to understand the intricacies of data. It can also be a tool to communicate a fact, an amount, or an issue beyond just the sheer numbers. Data illustration is poorly understood, but it can be very powerful. Continue reading The Value of Illustrating Numbers
The Graphic Continuum is a poster created by Jon Schwabish and Severino Ribecca (the man behind the Data Visualisation Catalogue). It lists almost 90 different chart types and organizes them into five large groups: distribution, time, comparing categories, geospatial, part-to-whole, and relationships. Some of them are connected across groups where there are further similarities.
The poster is printed very nicely and makes for a great piece of wall art to stare at when thinking about data, and maybe to get an idea for what new visualization to try.
An article in the Publications of the American Statistical Association by the Joint Committee on Standards for Graphic Presentation laid down some standards for how to create good data visualizations. In 1915. The chairman of that committee was none other than Willard C. Brinton, author of the highly opinionated (and much more complete) Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts. Andy Cotgreave is collecting some tidbits and highlights from Brinton’s books.
In this talk, Nigel Holmes talks about the value of and use of humor in communicating visualization. He also has some interesting criticism of academic visualization research (and also some more artistic pieces). It’s a fun and interesting talk, as always with Nigel Holmes.