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Posts Tagged ‘area charts’

The Best American Infographics 2013

Book highlights the finest infographics from the past year.

Displays an incredible variety of high-quality graphics ranging from highly technical to whimsical. The book demonstrates many styles and many ways to visually communicate data and ideas. An invaluable source of inspiration.

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The Power of Showing Not Telling

The new book “An Illustrated Guide to Income in the United States” presents a comprehensive collection of infographics, maps and charts looking at the history of incomes and occupations in the United States.

Data can be a powerful persuader. Instead of pages and pages of text spoon feeding the reader with conclusions, this book presents a large dataset in a format that empowers the reader to study the data itself to draw their own independent conclusions.

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New distribution technology is empowering too… the entire book can be read online for free. It can also be purchased as a PDF for $15, paperback + PDF for $42.50, or hardback + pdf for $60.

A Very Distorted Cartogram Map

NPR Maps Election Spending

A cartogram map scales geography proportionately according to some value of interest. Usually cartograms maintain the shape and relative position of the basic map as much as possible.

Maintaining a recognizable map of the US was a problem for this cartogram because political spending is so heavily concentrated in just a few states. This shrunk all the other states to the point of becoming almost invisible and certainly made them unrecognizable.

NPR’s solution was to turn the cartogram into an animation. Starting with an undistorted US map, NPR then morphed the US to show the highly distorted spending picture shown here.

Poorly Drawn Graphics Mislead

Nielsen smartphone purchasing data graphic skews reader’s perceptions

Many “readers” are really “lookers.” They quickly scan the infographic while ignoring the text and the numbers — after all who has time for all that “slow news”? This is why it is critical to get the infographic right. Editors should devote as much time to making sure the infographic is correct as they do to the rest of the story.

Here Nielsen’s infographic skews the numbers presented in the text and the infographic radically skews the numbers further. The text says…

Android continues to lead the smartphone market in the U.S., with a majority of smartphone owners (51.8%) using an Android OS handset. Over a third (34.3%) of smartphone owners use an Apple iPhone, and Blackberry owners represented another 8.1 percent of the smartphone market.

The text on the infographic rounds 51.8% down to 51% and rounds 8.1% up to 9%. What is Nielsen up to? But it gets worse. The infographic skews the data much further.

Below I superimposed my own stacked bar over the top of Nielsen’s infographic. Putting ruler to screen reveals that Android’s 52% share is shrunk to 34%; Apple’s 34% share is shrunk to 24%; RIM’s 9% share expands to 16% and all the other’s 6% share expands to a whopping 28% of the visual space. Anyone relying on this infographic to get their news will miss the important insight that only Android and Apple matter.

Visualizing Multiple Statistics

MIT Media Lab & Northwestern U explore Human Development

The Human Development Index was designed to focus attention on human well-being by combining metrics on health, education, and income into a single number between zero and one.

Some critics complained that important aspects of well being were left out. Others complained that a single number obscured important differences in the component parts: “a country whose population was lavishly wealthy but completely illiterate could look identical to a hyper-educated nation of homeless people.”

Graphics to the rescue, students at the MIT Media Lab and Northeastern University created a graphic that could quickly comminicate the multiple components and the relationship among them: The HDI Tree. Using an arrangement of color blocks the graphic quickly communicates the index (height of the tree) and its component parts (size of the blocks).

How Are Hospitals Performing?

General Electric Data Visualization http://www.visualizing.org

Demonstrating an effective means to visually compare many entities on many disparate measures. Each location on a 2D grid presents a specific color-coded measure: greens indicate above average performance, yellow is average, red is below average, and blank indicates no data. A quick visual scan of the display is very revealing.

This GE website features “visualizations that advance the conversation about issues that shape our lives.”

Economic Reporting: From surplus to debt

Washington Post/Bloomberg

  • Light on text, this display emphasizes the data (stress on authenticity)
  • Graphic timeline quickly summarizes the key issue
  • Block chart is superior to pie charts (area is proportional to $ value)
  • Color is used to present a third information axis (cuts vs. spending)