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

Two datavis places I don’t belong to

I'm an introvert, so it's very easy for me to also be an uncompromising Marxist (the Groucho flavor), specially when it comes to club membership (I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member) but things changed since I discovered data visualization. I love it and love this loose sense of community. NTTS 2015 [...]

By | March 23rd, 2015|14 Effective design, Design|3 Comments

Eurostat, or the art of factoid growing

It saddens me to know that 23-year old Belgium girls are incapable of abstract reasoning, something that everyone in other parts of the world take for granted by the age of 12. That's why we should praise Eurostat for its dumb-down, infographic-oriented approach to data dissemination. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you may want to take a [...]

By | March 11th, 2015|14 Effective design, Design|Comments Off on Eurostat, or the art of factoid growing

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

Infographics vs. Data Visualization

People keep asking what the difference is between data visualization and infographics. Since I'm not completely satisfied with the available answers I thought I could return to the subject and write my own. First, you have to recognize  that you can't compare them because they are not at the same level. Things get much simpler if we assume that data visualization [...]

By | October 2nd, 2013|13 Chart types: profiles, Design|8 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

Aesthetics be damned

I'll assume that you are not paid for your artistic skills. You're a mere mortal in a corporate environment, trying to make sense of your data and making rational decisions if possible. You make charts all the time, but you don't really know if this new "data visualization" is the same thing with a pompous name or is something bigger and more [...]

By | October 30th, 2012|14 Effective design, Design|10 Comments

And now you know why

I spent the last two weekends among kings and witches, foxes and wolves, dumb men and devious women, visiting castles in Scotland and villages in Africa. Two weekends of great storytelling. One little thing bothered me, though. Explicitly or not, many stories ended with the words "and now you know why". And now you know why. We, the data visualization [...]

By | September 10th, 2012|14 Effective design, Design|1 Comment

That’s not data visualization

What is wheat and what is chaff? Here is a list to help you take sides: If you want to fit the data into the shape of real-world objects, that's not data visualization; If you use more than one dimension to represent a data point, that's not data visualization; If your project breaks basic perception laws, that's not data visualization; [...]

By | July 3rd, 2012|14 Effective design, Design|7 Comments

The data visualization – data art continuum

Data visualization is becoming a catch-all concept with little analytic usefulness. The infographic plague we have to endure is not helping. It doesn't have to be that way. Stephen Few wrote recently about the distinction between data visualization ("the goal that data be visualized in a way that leads to understanding") and data art ("visualizations of data that seek primarily [...]

By | May 24th, 2012|14 Effective design, Design|7 Comments