Concentric Circles on a Map, version 3

After my attempt at improving the concentric circles, Stephen Few was kind enough to provide more feedback: he still doesn’t like them. Your experiments with concentric circles are interesting and it’s clear that you’re having fun exploring this, but the new version doesn’t seem to work any better than the first, even though you’ve eliminated […]

Concentric Circles on a Map, version 2.0

In response to Stephen Few’s challenge to do better than his bricks to display quantities on a map, I proposed the concentric circles. He shot down version 1.0: Thanks for exploring the possibilities of concentric circles. Unfortunately, as you’ve seen, when there are more than three or four concentric circles, we cannot perceive the quantities […]

Concentric Circles on a Map

Stephen Few introduced “bricks” a few days ago as a new way to display quantities on a map. Using circles is tricky because humans are not skilled at distinguishing areas. Few suggests that we can distinguish the shape of the bricks arrangement and hence count them more easily (“preattentively”). The problem arises when bricks overlap, […]

It’s not you, it’s PowerPoint

PowerPoint is so despised that “death by PowerPoint” has become a common expression. It might be more literal than you think given its role in the explosion of the Columbia shuttle and its negative impact on the conduct of war. Even the creators of PowerPoint don’t like how it’s used today. Yet PowerPoint has its […]

Oh my, here I go defending pie charts

Jorge Cameos blogs about pie charts over at He doesn’t like them. Indeed, pie charts do not get much love in the data visualization community, as popular as they are outside of it. I’m fascinated by this discrepancy, trying to understand if it yields from ignorance, naivete, instinct, snobbery, expertise, science, else or all […]

MOOC Weeks 5-6: UK Aid to India

For our last assignment of the MOOC, Alberto Cairo decided to give us enough rope to hang ourselves: “do whatever you want”. I proceeded to swiftly spend half the allocated time deciding on a topic. Returning to aid, the subject of week 3, was a natural fit and I knew the data would be available. […]

MOOC Week 2: The politics of words

While I’m working on the assignment for weeks 5 and 6 of the MOOC, let’s have a look back at week 2. We were asked to provide a critique of a graph about the words used by speakers at the Republican and Democratic conventions for the 2012 election. As with most of what the New […]

Show what you say

Forbes has a makeover contest for this graph. Gavin McMahon, from Powerful Point, did this version and I explained in the comments what I thought was wrong with both versions. The main problem is that the headline is plain wrong. The data presented here does not imply that LinkedIn referral traffic is 16 times higher […]