Good/Bad Data Visualizations

Effective data viz example:

Hindsight Is Always 20/20

Hindsight is always 20/20

This is a big data piece titled “Hindsight Is Always 20/20,” commissioned for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, by one of our professors Luke DuBois. He culled the State of the Union addresses of every president for their most frequent words. Then, playing with the idea of testing the presidents’ visions, he presented the top 66 words used by each one in descending order of frequency on eye charts.

Each eye chart represents one US president with the most frequent word in the biggest type at the top. George W. Bush: Terror. Richard Nixon: Truly.

The visual aesthetic of the charts is super clean and the information provided is intuitive enough, and the scales of the words in each line are consistent. It also provides relevant information at the corner of each chart to show the president’s serving year. There is interactivity where people can switch to other charts at the bottom of a line of thumbnails which are aligned chronologically.

Effective data visualizations enable the user to discover unexpected patterns and invite a different perspective of the data. This visualization combines the visual form and information with metaphor and hence tells an interesting story through data. The phrase ‘Hindsight Is Always 20/20’ is used to describe the fact that it is easy for one to be knowledgeable about an event after it has happened.

Ineffective data viz example:

The bitcoin wealth distribution

The graph represents the entire bitcoin market, which has a value of around $60 billion.  As described on its website, ‘then divided the value of the bitcoin market by address’. As you can see, over 95% of all bitcoins in circulation is owned by about 4% of the market. In fact, 1% of the addresses control half the entire market.

Why slicing a pie chart using Voronoi? Shattered polygons make it harder to read than the usual pie chart.

Color: What is the point of using blue vs pink and differences in transparency if they are not intuitive enough?

Two variables in a single pie chart: addresses vs BTC, both represented with figures.


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