October 7, 2012 § 1 Comment
Shark attacks loom large in our imaginations even though the chance of being killed by a shark is infinitesimally small. Our obsession with shark statistics provides fodder for compelling charts, such as the classic infographic by the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinal shown above or the more sparse, image-driven chart below.
Visual journalists most frequently go to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural history for shark-attack data. The site posts an annual report that includes trends by location and circumstance.
Here are some examples of terrifying details charted in the report.
Another source, the similarly named Shark Attack File, provides less analysis but greater detail on each shark-attack report.
Here’s an example from the National Post of how you can use these stats. The Post’s team created an icon for each recorded attack over the past 100 years.
March 8, 2011 § Leave a comment
When China officially became the world’s second-largest economy last month, the Wall Street Journal ran this chart, which shows the world economy way back to 1820. Before seeing this data, I hadn’t imagined you could show Gross Domestic Product figures so far into the past. That’s because I hadn’t discovered the work of late economist Angus Maddison, a world scholar of quantitative macroeconomic history and the go-to source for historical GDP figures. His statistics stretch to 1 AD and are presented in purchasing power parity, a GDP calculation that adjusts for differences in wages and prices among economies.
Following is a link to his data:
And to the University of Groningen page dedicated to him:
November 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
I have had a tremendously difficult time describing what I do as an information graphics specialist. “Oh, you’re the pie chart guy,” I often hear. I then explain that a pie chart is one arrow in a vast quiver, and I rattle off a dozen more forms that an information graphic might take. When I say I do “data visualization” instead of information graphics, that usually just stops the questions cold.
That said, Geoff McGhee at Stanford University has produced a video that explains, with great clarity and depth, how people in the information graphics field tell stories with data and images.
The video covers the genres of narrative vizualization, the tools and the methods. It tells you who’s who in the field and provides advice for getting started in data visualization.
Next time I have difficultly explaining the profession, I’m just going to offer this video.
May 10, 2010 § Leave a comment
Click on the image for a copy of the study.
With its minimalist approach, Edward Tufte’s book “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” changed the way many people view information graphics. Charts should be free of embellishments, or “chart junk,” Tufte said, because they can distort the information and make the charts more difficult to understand.
Not so, according to a study out of the Interaction Lab a the University of Saskatchewan.
The researchers showed test subjects graphics made by Nigel Holmes–whose hallmark style mashes up illustrations and charts–and unembellished versions of the same graphics. The report concludes that readers can understand embellished charts just as easily as unembellished ones. It also found that readers were able to retain the information longer if they viewed the embellished charts, and they simply liked the embellished ones more.