Beyond perception: the impact of the social context in data visualization

Suddenly, the colorful lollipop turns into a dangerous match

It surprised me. And it shouldn't. You see, there is nothing wrong in using data for the sole purpose of creating aesthetically pleasing visual objects. On the other hand, if you want to make sense of the data, and communicate your findings, it’s easy to argue that effectiveness should be your primary goal. This is the general model. Too black & white. When [...]

By | June 9th, 2016|03 Beyond perception, Context|Comments Off on Suddenly, the colorful lollipop turns into a dangerous match

The cave

Stephen Few and Alberto Cairo (Alberto is the host, that's why he doesn't say much) And now let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a meeting room, which has a projector with a Powerpoint presentation always turned on; here they have been from their childhood, and have their [...]

By | June 3rd, 2016|03 Beyond perception, Design|Comments Off on The cave

Bad charts from people who should know better

Over the last few days I came across some really WTF visualizations from respected people and organizations here. They all share the international language of bad design, so I'm sure you don't need to know Portuguese to (not) understand them. Público, a newspaper:   The National Council of Education: Jorge Braga de Macedo, an economist:   FFMS, a foundation who's mission "is to study, disseminate [...]

By | October 6th, 2014|03 Beyond perception, Design|2 Comments

Find the revolution

I have a challenge for you. The chart above displays the evolution of infant mortality rate in Portugal. The years in the x-axis are not labeled on purpose. In one of those years there was a left-wing revolution. Left-wingers say that a sharp decline in the infant death rate is one of the "conquests" of the revolution, while right-wingers say that the trend [...]

By | April 28th, 2014|03 Beyond perception|3 Comments

Context comes in many ways and shapes

We (datavis folks) like to believe that one of the key advantages of charts over tables is that charts are much better at providing context, displaying patterns and so on, while a tables "merely" gives you the exact value. Fortunately, life is not that simple. Many people dislike charts and a good table with the latest data is more than enough to [...]

By | January 2nd, 2013|03 Beyond perception, Design|9 Comments

Memo regarding data management and reporting

From: CMO To: All Staff Re: Changes in internal data analysis and reporting Consistent with current efforts to streamline our operations, management team has decided to change the way the company analyses and communicates business data. Recent assessments made clear that we are using just a small fraction of the available data, many decisions are not supported by enough data and we [...]

By | February 28th, 2012|03 Beyond perception, Context|11 Comments

How Do You Sell an Excel Dashboard?

Dmitry asks: I face an issue that has nothing to do with Excel itself: human resistance. I showed a dashboard to my manager and he answered to me that my dashboard is too difficult for him and for top management and insisted to use simple XL-tables with lots of data. I'm a bit confused, why such innovative approach is not [...]

Charts Are for Sissies (Grumpy Old Man’s Guide to Charts)

Making a chart is so simple that even a chimpanzee can be trained to do it - press F11 and get the banana (that would explain the poor quality of many business charts and presentations - and the raising banana consumption). To prove that they are better than chimpanzees at making charts, humans invented the eye-candy and its epitome, the [...]

By | December 8th, 2009|03 Beyond perception, Context|5 Comments

Better Charts for Business: When Business Doesn’t Care

Most managers don't care about a better visualization of business data. As a reader puts it: Short of locking management in a room with Tufte and Few, how do I sell management on the value of seeing things differently? Instead of trying to sell, let's see why the aren't buying. Here are some reasons. Good Charts Are For Middle-Management Making [...]

By | May 19th, 2009|03 Beyond perception, Context|8 Comments

Sub-Prime Charts: Should Data Visualization Be Boring?

In a recent article for the New York Times, Paul Krugman, the 2008 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, writes: "The banking industry that emerged from that collapse [the Great Depression] was tightly regulated, far less colorful than it had been before the Depression, and far less lucrative for those who ran it. Banking became boring, partly because bankers [...]

By | April 19th, 2009|03 Beyond perception, Context|7 Comments