A Pair of Pie Chart Papers

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

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