Paired bar chart of Gini coefficients from Max Roser

Killing the paired bar chart

We’ve all seen it: The bar (or column) chart with 20 or 30 or 40 different groups, each with two, three, of four categories. Is that a good chart type? Is it useful? I’ve recently started to think that these types of charts are just data dumps and are not effective ways to communicate data.…

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Visualized: Political Data 2015

I’m very excited to announce a new data visualization conference that will take place in Washington, DC on Thursday, May 21, 2015–Visualized: Political Data. That’s right, the folks who brought you Visualized in NYC in 2014 (on which I posted an 8-part round-up) and again this coming fall are bringing a new conference about data and…

Talking Maps with Ben Chartoff

Continuing my lazy-man blogging, I sat down with my colleague Ben Chartoff last week for 15 minutes to talk about our mutual dislike for maps-as-data-visualization. I’ve posted links and images to the things we mentioned below (and apologies to Brandon Martin-Anderson, whose name I completely forgot.) What do you think about maps? Great way to show…

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Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day everyone! It’s especially fun this year because today is 3/14/15. If you’re a regular reader of this blog or of the data visualization field in general, you’re probably well aware of many people’s disdain for pie charts (see, for example, the WTFViz site or this great article by Stephen Few). But I’m not going…

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Talking Data Visualization Research with Andy Kirk

Continuing my new fascination with audio blog posts, I chatted with Andy Kirk from visualisingdata.com for about 15 minutes about his current data visualization research project. We covered his research project, data visualization aesthetics, and how I’m being lazy by not writing posts and just recording conversations. If you’d like to chat with me about a…

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Talking Data Visualization Aesthetics

A visualization by the Wall Street Journal on trends in infectious diseases prompted a nice blog post by Andy Kirk and, in turn, prompted a discussion between myself and Andy Cotgreave, of Tableau Software and overall awesome dataviz-ness. As I did earlier in January with Cole Nussbaumer, I asked Andy to join me for a quick…

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Data Visualization Library

I’ve been doing a lot of teaching and training on data visualization and presentation techniques lately. I’ve been working with folks at work, showing them best practices, some Excel tricks, and different tools and techniques. I’ve been doing a lot more client work recently and am gearing up for some public workshops in the early spring.…

4 charts. Top left: column chart with nonzero baseline; bottom-right: column chart w zero baseline; top-right: line chart with nonzero baseline; bottom-right: line chart with zero baseline

Talking Zero Baselines

I took a quick trip to San Francisco early this week and stopped by to see my friend Cole Nussbaumer (Storytellingwithdata.com). As it does every once and a while, the topic of whether to crop your graph’s baseline to something other than zero popped up last week. Instead of writing a blog post, I thought…

3D pie chart from World Economic Forum

Announcing the Remakes Page

New year, new ideas. This year, I’m launching a “Remakes” page to PolicyViz, which will serve as an ongoing repository for data visualizations that I think are in need a makeover. I’ll regularly post simple graphs and data visualizations that I think violate some basic principle (yes, pie charts, I’m looking at you), clearly misrepresent data,…

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Raising the standards of data journalism

This post originally appeared on the Urban Institute’s MetroTrends blog. Looking back, 2014 may be known as the Year of Data-Driven Journalism. Journalists’ use of more and better data will probably, ultimately lead to better stories and a better understanding of important issues, but there are some growing pains (for example, here, here, and here).…