Forget that a bar graph doesn’t make any sense here. They didn’t even do the bar graph right.
I’d say one of the important functions of information design is to make numbers and facts — which might otherwise be hard to grasp and contextualize — extremely easy to understand.
Sometimes, it can be as simple as taking some information and contextualizing it against information which is meaningful and familiar to the reader, as done in this post in the atlantic. He took a circle the size of the Texas wildfires and superimposed that over major US cities:
Derek Watkins created this cool visualization of historical data from the USPS, animating the openings of post offices from 1700 – 1900 on a map of the US, and reflecting the expansion of settlement in the US. (Once a location has enough of a permanent population, there’s a need for a post office.)
I recently saw this ad for Nisan’s new electric car showing the “miles per dollar” you get with various popular cars:
See if you can spot the misleading info-design.
The MP$ is shown on a horizontal axis on a linear scale and cars are called out at their relavent markers. That’s fine. However, they’ve added an arch from 0 for each car which seems to be a way of visually implying the route you could travel with that car: start at 0, follow your color in the rainbow and you’ll end up as far as you can get on a single dollar. The distance traveled following the arch is still relatively the same as the distance from start to finish. But the area of the semi-circle under the arch is now growing at a much faster rate than the distance travelled — in favor of the leaf.
For example, the ratio of the MP$ of the prius to the leaf is approximately 0.72:1. But if you compare the areas under each one’s arch, the ratio is now about 0.52:1 prius to leaf — a 38% gain for the leaf. And it gets more exaggerated as the initial distance grows: the civic to leaf ratio is 0.42:1 whereas the ratio of their areas is about 0.18:1 — a 130% gain for the leaf.
Instead of comparing MP$a to MP$b, your brain is probably comparing (MP$a)² to (MP$b)². Although nobody is sitting down and figuring out ratios like this when they glance at the ad in a magazine, your brain can easily take into account the relative areas of overlapping circles. It shouldn’t be much harder than comparing positions on a number line.
There are plenty of demographic breakdowns not shown (age for example would probably be pretty drastic), but overall an interesting look:
(title from boingboing)
Green party politician Malte Spitz sued to have German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom hand over six months of his phone data that he then made available to ZEIT ONLINE. We combined this geolocation data with information relating to his life as a politician, such as Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites, all of which is all freely available on the internet.
By pushing the play button, you will set off on a trip through Malte Spitz’s life. The speed controller allows you to adjust how fast you travel, the pause button will let you stop at interesting points. In addition, a calendar at the bottom shows when he was in a particular location and can be used to jump to a specific time period. Each column corresponds to one day.
Mozilla put together a nice visualization of firefox 4’s live download stats. Be sure to check out the aggragate breakdown by clicking the donut graph in the bottom left of the screen.
glow.mozilla.org tracks downloads for Firefox 4. When someone clicks the download button on mozilla.com or asks for an upgrade from inside Firefox, we approximate their location based on IP address and store anonymous aggregate location information in our database.
Each dot that shows up on the map represents someone who just downloaded Firefox (with a few seconds of latency as we process everything on the backend). The counter at the top shows the total downloads of Firefox since March 22, 2011, when Firefox 4 was released. The arc chart shows those downloads broken down all the way to the city level.