• Strata of common and not so common colors

    June 9, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    The Color Strata from Weathersealed

    In another look at the data from xkcd's color experiment, Stephen Von Worley looks at the common and not so common colors of the rainbow:

    The Color Strata includes the 200 most common color names (excluding black-white-grayish tones), organized by hue horizontally and relative usage vertically, stacked by overall popularity, shaded representatively, and labeled where possible. Besides filtering spam, ignoring cruft, normalizing grey to gray, and correcting the most egregious misspellings (here’s looking at you, fuchsia), the results are otherwise unadulterated.

    The results correspond nicely with Martin and Dolores Labs' color wheels from a couple of years ago.

    [Thanks, Stephen]

  • Protovis 3.2 released – more examples and layouts

    June 7, 2010  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    parralel coordinates

    The most recent version of Protovis, the open-source visualization library that uses JavaScript and SVG, was just released not too long ago - this time with more layout and examples. This is especially helpful since Protovis was "designed to be learned by example." Among the new stuff is the ever popular streamgraphs, along with the force-directed layout. With only 10 to 20 lines of code, you'll have your viz, so lots of bang for the buck.

    There are, however, still some limitations with dreaded Internet Explorer (mainly with interaction), but they're getting there, I think.

    Find plenty of other examples on the Protovis site. Robert Kosara has also started a series of Protovis tutorials on how to use the library if you want some guidance on where to start.

  • Current tracks and visualizes memes

    May 27, 2010  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    It's not easy keeping up with what's going on around the Web. Trending topic here. Another topic there. Zoe Fraade-Blanar, a graduate student at NYU ITP, hopes to lessen the pain with Current: A News Project.

    Through a combination of data from Google Hot Trends and cross-references via Google News, the last 24 hours of memes are charted over time. The focus is on providing a tool that allows journalists to report news that matters, without sacrificing the reader traffic that comes in for videos of cute puppy dogs.

    News relies on soft stories like horoscopes, celebrity gossip and restaurant reviews to subsidize the important but less sensational stories that keep democracy running. At base, any solution to News’ present problems must address the balance between the hard news we need and the soft news that drives advertising dollars. By visually anthropomorphizing the capricious nature of public attention Current can spotlight these missed opportunities in news coverage.

    It's still rough around the edges, and I'm not really digging the whole amoeba aesthetic, but I could see how this might be useful. Next steps: provide a way to focus on specific topics, incorporate Twitter trends, and smooth out the interaction.

    Try it out for yourself (available for Mac and PC), and toss your thoughts in the comments below.

    [via ReadWriteWeb]

  • What America spends on food and drink

    May 13, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    What America spends on food and drink

    How much more (or less) money do you spend on groceries than you do on dining out? How does it compare to how others spend? Bundle, a new online destination that aims to describe how we spend money, takes a look at the grocery-dining out breakdown in major cities. The average household in Austin spends the most money on food per year, period. Atlanta has the highest skew towards spending on dining out at 57%. The US average is 37%.
    Continue Reading

  • Driving habits and gas prices shift into reverse

    May 11, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization


    Hannah Fairfield of the New York Times looks at driving habits and gas prices over the past six decades. Miles driven per capita is on the horizontal, and the adjusted price of gasoline is on the vertical. The drawn path indicates order in time.

    Americans have driven more miles every year than the year before, almost every year, but there's been a swing as of late. High unemployment has meant less people driving to work, and less consumer spending means less freight moving across the country. As a result, the path appears to swing in the opposite direction.

    [Thanks, Craig]

  • Streamgraph code ported to JavaScript

    May 7, 2010  |  Software, Statistical Visualization


    Lee Byron open-sourced his streamgraph code in Processing about a month ago. Jason Sundram has taken that and ported it to JavaScript, using Processing.js.

    The algorithms are the same as that in the original, but of course the natural benefit is that people don't need Java to run it their browsers. Jason has also added a few features including dynamic sizing, more straightforward settings, and some interaction with zoom and hover control. Really nice work.

    Grab the code, plus examples on GitHub.

    [Thanks, Jason]

  • Tax brackets over the past century

    April 27, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    Stephen Von Worley's Weather Sealed is one of my new favorites. In his most recent graphic, income tax brackets for individuals are displayed.

    The colors indicate the marginal tax rate: black for low, red in the middle, and yellow for high. The horizontal axis is the tax year, and the vertical represents taxable income, log-scale, normalized to 2010 dollars with the Bureau Of Labor Statistics’ monthly CPI-U figures. The bracket data comes from The Tax Foundation and the IRS, and the effects of Social Security, capital gains, AMT, and other tax varieties are not included.

    Through most of the century, brackets were much closer to a continuous scale. There was a big shift in thought though in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was elected president. The brackets became much more distinct. The idea has more or less stuck over the past two decades.

    Of course what sticks out the most is the 90% income tax during the mid-1900s. Earn $10 million. Give the man $9 million of it. That seems sort of, uh, wrong. The range between lowest and highest is also really big at 70 percentage points. It's only a small difference of 15 percentage points nowadays. Much better.

    Update: As noted in the comments, my knowledge of tax brackets is amazing. I should be a CPA. Here's the corrected math. The amount you earned over $10 million in 1950 is what would get taxed 90%. So if you earned $11 million, $900,000 of the last million would go to the man. Subsequently, the first $20,000 would be taxed 20%, then the next lump 30%, so on and so forth. Thanks, all.

  • March Madness Bracketology

    March 30, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization


    The Final Four is just about here. Who's going to win it all? It's anyone's guess at this point, but what we can do while we wait is examine who's won in the past. Leonardo Aranda takes a gander at who has won in each round since 1985, by ranking, with a color-coded bracket that resembles a stacked area chart.

    I think if he used just two colors per corner (instead of entire palettes) and brightness indicating rank, it might be a bit easier to read in the first rounds. At the very least, you could find the Cinderella stories quicker, which is the most exciting part of the tournament a lot of the time.

    I still like the concept though. It reminds me of Stephen's crayon colors.

    See the full-sized version here.

    Who's your money on?

    [Thanks, Leonardo]

  • Statistical Atlas from the ninth Census in 1870

    March 16, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    In 1870, Francis Walker oversaw publication of the United States' first Statistical Atlas, based on data from the ninth Census. It was a big moment for statistics in the United States as the atlas provided a way to compare data on a national level using maps and statistical graphics.

    What continues to amaze me about these old illustrations is the detail - all done by hand. That's ridiculous. The kicker is that a lot of this stuff looks way better than a lot of what we see nowadays. Here are some selections from the 1870 atlas.
    Continue Reading

  • Canada: the country that pees together stays together

    March 9, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization


    EPCOR, the water utility company that runs the fountains up in Edmonton, Canada released this graph yesterday. It's water consumption during the Olympic gold medal hockey game, overlaying consumption of the previous day. How much do Canadians love their hockey? A lot.

    The first period ends. Time to pee. The second period ends. Time to pee. The third period ends. Time to pee. Consumption goes way down when Canada wins and during the medal ceremony.

    Finally, when it's all said and done, the rest of the country can relieve itself, figuratively and literally.

    [via contrarian | thanks, @statpumpkin]

  • Challenge: make this graph easier to read

    February 25, 2010  |  Discussion, Statistical Visualization

    The Economist discusses the return of big government and includes this graph showing total government spending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. We see a dip in 2000 and a big jump this past year.

    The trouble is that the country labels are cluttered. If you read them left to right, you get mixed up initially. Keep your eyes left and move top to bottom, and you might be okay.

    The Challenge

    Can you think of a way to make this graph easier to read? Is there a better way to represent the time series?

    One catch: you have to work within the size limitation of 290 pixels wide and 300 pixels tall. It's an easy fix with unlimited space. But what can you do when space is scarce? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

    P.S. I was looking for the data this graph uses but got tired of using the OECD stat browser, so we'll just have to use our imagination for this one.

    [Thanks, Justin]

    Update: Here's GDP (sans spending) by country from 1995 to 2008 if anyone would like to take a wack [thanks, Kim].

  • An Exploration of Biological Records

    February 25, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    The Natural Science Museum of Barcelona has a growing database of 50,000 records of specimens collected over the past 150 years. Bestiario explores this data in their biodiversity treemap and geographical map.
    Continue Reading

  • Road to Recovery – Is the Recovery Act working?

    February 17, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization


    The Obama administration just posted a graph showing monthly job loss from December 2007 (Bush in red) up to last month. Discuss.

    [via @nickbilton]

    Update: There's a video version now [via infosthetics].
    Continue Reading

  • Build Online Visualization for Free with Tableau Public

    Tableau Software, popular for making data more accessible, mainly in the business sector, just opened up with Tableau Public. The application is similar in spirit to other online data applications like Many Eyes and Swivel. It lets you share data and visualizations online. However, Tableau Public doesn't have a central portal or a place to browse data. Rather it's focused on letting you explore data and stitch modules together on your desktop and then embed your findings on a website or blog.
    Continue Reading

  • Obama’s Budget Proposal and Incorrect Forecasts

    February 1, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    President Obama announced his 2011 budget proposal. How does it compare to last year's budget? Shan Carter and Amanda Cox of The New York Times compare the two plans. Red indicates a decrease in the percentage of the budget dedicated to the respective area, and green is for growth. Zoom in for a better view of the smaller areas.
    Continue Reading

  • Build Statistical Graphics Online With ggplot2

    Statisticians are generally behind the times when it comes to online applications. There are a lot out-dated Java applets and really rough attempts at getting R, a statistical computing environment, in some useful form through a browser. So imagine my surprise when I tried this tool by Jeroen Ooms, a visiting scholar at UCLA Statistics.

    It actually works pretty well, and for a prototype, it isn't half bad.
    Continue Reading

  • How to Make an Interactive Area Graph with Flare

    December 9, 2009  |  Statistical Visualization, Tutorials

    flare graph

    You've seen the NameExplorer from the Baby Name Wizard by Martin Wattenberg. It's an interactive area chart that lets you explore the popularity of names over time. Search by clicking on names or typing in a name in the prompt. It's simple. It's sexy. Everybody loves it.

    This is a step-by-step guide on how to make a similar visualization in Actionscript/Flash with your own data and how to customize the design for whatever you need. We're after last week's graphic on consumer spending (above).
    Continue Reading

  • Stat Charts Get a New York Times Redesign

    December 3, 2009  |  Statistical Visualization

    Statistical graphics are often... kind of bland. But that's fine, because they're usually for analysis, and the wireframe does just fine. The time eventually comes though when you need to present your analytical visualization in a paper or some slides, and you're no longer the primary reader.

    In their NYT op-ed on health care calculations, Andrew Gelman, Nate Silver, and Daniel Lee had some graphics of their own that needed some NYT flavor and design treatment.
    Continue Reading

  • The Cost of Getting Sick

    November 23, 2009  |  Statistical Visualization

    GE and Ben Fry (now the director of SEED visualization), show the cost of getting sick, from the individual's and insurer's perspective. The data: 500k records from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from GE's proprietary database. The visualization: a polar area pie chart.
    Continue Reading

  • Buzzwords in Academic Papers (Comic)

    November 20, 2009  |  Statistical Visualization


    This comic was really amusing, although it might be because I'm a big nerd entertained by all things from PHD Comics...

    It's my blog, and I can laugh if I want to.

    Have a nice weekend, everyone.

    [Thanks, Stephen]

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