Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blue Cross bad design

Yes, I know Blue Cross isn't a government agency.

There are two big problems with this image from Blue Cross/Blue Shield (both of which are related). The horizontal axis is rather poorly connected to the actual time scale, and the studies actually run for a significant time (meaning that the concept that they are actually data points instead of data plateaus is not justified).

Here's my replacement:

(And the SVG)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

In case you were wondering...

...And you weren't, I know...

A good way to find charts from government agencies is to search blogs with this query:
"source us department of" chart
Now you may wonder why I'm telling you this. I'm not. I'm just making sure I can find it again if I need to.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Software advice

Does anyone know of good statistical design software? I'm currently using Inkscape, which has some really bad software design features that make it unpleasant to work with.

Apart from that, it's also not very good for statistics.

Any advice would be welcome, and if I find anything good, I'll be sure to mention it here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

GOP debt chart, un-crappified

This chart is from Hat tip to Sadly, No!

There's a lot wrong with this chart. First off, it describes 4 ordered pairs. Secondly, there's no context to the numbers. Thirdly, an increase from 2.68T to 8.46T (5.77T) is represented by a distance of about 24 pixels, or about 4.2 pixels per trillion dollars.

Then an increase of 4.41T is represented by about 27 pixels, or 6.1 pixels per trillion dollars.

Finally an increase of 3.31T (the smallest increase depicted in reality) is represented by a distance of 107 pixels. This is a factor of 32.3 pixels per trillion dollars.

This gives the Y-dimension a lie factor of 7.8.

In the X-dimension, 334 pixels represent 17 years (20px per year), 60 pixels represent 2 years (30 px per year) and 62 pixels represent 3 years (21 px per year). The lie factor here is only 1.5.

Fourthly, the line from 2009 to 2012 is curved, making it appear longer than it actually is, enhancing the deception. Fifthly, the use of a very well-known optical illusion to make the distorted line appear even longer is rather childish. Sixthly, the use of the noun "Democrat" as an adjective (a well-documented attempt to turn the term into a slur) is also very childish.

Seventhly, the 2.68 number is grayed out and the 16.17 number is enlarged. Eighthly, the large lines and dots obscure the fake data. I think I'm forgetting some other things. Perhaps it was that the OMB projection data from the Statistical Abstract disagrees with the GOP's data, which they claim comes from the OMB. At any rate, the budget data may not agree with the Statistical Abstract data due to policy changes, but I haven't bothered to look into that. Anyway, here's a new design.

(and the SVGZ)

The red portion is historical data, the blue is projection (since the projection is for years that are Democratic-controlled, I chose blue for that portion). The labels on the left are fairly consistent until it gets near the bottom, at which point, the labels would all run into each other.

The year 1976 has an asterisk because that year, there was a change in accounting procedures. It is listed twice, once under each accounting procedure.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The last low-resolution chart for a while

There's a lot of very bad stuff going on here. Let's start with the fact that the tax benefits seem to be larger than the entire stimulus plan(!) Then we can move on to the fact that the tax benefits are described twice, and then the fact that there's a large tax benefit-colored area of non-data ink. Finally, note that only three numbers are being described.

My reinterpretation is to the right.

Oh, right. Here's the SVGZ.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another design

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. There. That should take me out of the canyon that I inadvertently created above.

So above is another chart that you can find at Among other not-so nice things about the design, the entire chart suffers from perspective issues. This creates the illusion that the shorter bars are smaller than they actually are, which is curious, since the smaller bars are small enough as it is.

Again, we have volumetric changes meant to describe simple one-dimensional data.

At right is my interpretation, which is (admittedly) not the best. Each bar is separated into two portions: the very large portion of funds available for any use and the relatively small portion of funds for that particular use. Hopefully, this suggests the fact that using general funds for one use will eliminate their usability for a different use.

I think the problem, such as it is, is that this chart is supposed to represent 5 numbers. That's not really enough to get a good display of statistical information. We need some higher resolution charts, and I plan to deliver this next week, but I have one more garish chart to improve before then.

(also, a quick note. In the preview panel, I'm seeing a very blocky version of this design on the left. If you ever have trouble seeing a chart, try viewing the image alone in a new window. Most images are resized before I put them up here)

Also available: the Compressed SVG. Please note that though it looks small, you can zoom into it, and all the information is still there, in much higher quality than any PNG.

* 'Enhancement' is a legally defined term for projects such as sidewalk repairs, bicycle paths, and beautification projects. Enhancements do not involve vehicle or mass transit related items.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

And now, the reveal

Well, here's my interpretation. Each element is 787 units wide. The height is proportional to the fraction of the money going to the specific element. This way, you can see both the proportion that each element is in relation to the other elements and to the budget as a whole simultaneously.

Colors were adjusted to give each color the same visual weight, in accordance with Goethe's theory of colors.

The data dot is a section of the SVG which contains the data used to create the chart, in CSV format.

It's my first time, so please be gentle.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Let's change the statistical graphics design of!

ZOOOMMM! Man, look at these bubbles. They are AWE SOME! I tell you, when I want to know how my tax dollars are being spent, I like to look at large, shaded, randomly colored and haphazardly placed circles that use two dimensions to represent one dimensional data, and which obscure the actual relationships between the data in question.

This sort of "chart" says one thing to me, "I hold your intelligence and analytical skills in contempt."

Since I don't think Obama intends to insult my reasoning skills, I think I'll redesign this for him and make it better. (of course, I'm just getting around to making the blog, so I think I'll do the redesign tonight/tomorrow).

Edward Tufte would be turning over in his grave if he were dead.