Not All Charts Are Necessary Part 2

The table option
The table option

Monday I examined a chart from the BBC that in my mind needlessly added confusing visual components to what could have been a straight table. So here we take a look at some other options that could have been used to tell the same story. The first is the straight forward table approach. Here I emphasised the important number, that of those killed. I opted to de-emphasise the years and the injured in the table. Also, since the bulk of my audience is from the United States, I used the two-letter states codes.

But let us presume we want a graphic because everyone wants everything to be visual and graphic. Here are two different options. The first takes the table/graphic from the BBC and converts it into a straight stacked bar chart, again with emphasis on the dead. I consolidated the list into a single column so one need not split their reading across both the horizontal and vertical.

As a stacked bar chart
As a stacked bar chart

And then if you examine the dates, one can find an interesting component of the data. Of the top-eight shootings, all but two occurred within the last ten years. So the second version takes the graphic component of the stacked bars from the first and places them on a timeline.

In a timeline
In a timeline

For those that wonder about the additional effort needed to create three different options from one data set, I limited myself to an hour’s worth of time. A little bit of thought after examining the data set can save a lot of time when trying to design the data display.

Tables of Insight

Yesterday I opined about how simple tables can convey meaningful information without the aid of unnecessary chart elements. And while we will get back to that post, I did want to take a moment to share an older piece from the New York Times I recalled and that has been updated since Orlando.

The piece uses a table to compare the gun homicide rates for various countries and compares it to other causes of death. Being killed by a gun in the Netherlands is as likely as dying by accidental gas poisoning in the United States. It puts the absurdly high gun homicide rates in the United States in a new light.

A table of death
A table of death

Credit for the piece goes to Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz.

Two Tales of One City

Dickens is not my favourite, but that felt an appropriate title for today’s piece from the Washington Post on Chicago residents’ opinions on, well, Chicago. Turns out there is a notable demographic split on how residents feel about various things in the city.

Some of the issues
Some of the issues

Credit for the piece goes to Emily Badger.

Urban Homicide

Today we look at a really nice piece from the Washington Post on urban homicide. It combines big, full-width images that use interactivity to promote exploration of data. But as you can see in the screenshot below, the designers took care to highlight a few key stories. Just in case the reader does not want to take the time to explore the data set.

The growth rate is an interactive piece
The growth rate is an interactive piece

But the piece uses scale to provide contrast throughout the article. Because in addition to the three or four big graphics, a similarly well-thought-out and well-designed approach was taken towards smaller, inline supplemental graphics. Here is an example about the homicide rate for New York.

New York's homicide rate as an inline graphic
New York’s homicide rate as an inline graphic

What I really enjoy about these small graphics is the attention paid to highlighting New York against the background averages provided for context. Note how the orange line for the city breaks the grey lines. It is a very nice detail.

Overall, this is a really strong piece marrying written content and data visualisation.

Credit for the piece goes to Denise Lu.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

It’s Friday, everybody, so let’s lighten the mood with cruel and unusual punishment.

Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. No, today we look at a simple two-axis plot or matrix used by Jon Stewart to classify means of death and whether or not they would unconstitutional based on the cruel and unusual clause.

The Cruel and Unusual Punishment Matrix
The Cruel and Unusual Punishment Matrix

Credit for the piece goes to the Daily Show’s graphics department.

Lynchings

Let’s follow up yesterday’s good news story about measles with lynchings. The New York Times mapped and charted historical lynchings from 1877 to 1950 across 12 states in the South.

Locations of lynchings across the South, 1877–1950
Locations of lynchings across the South, 1877–1950

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.

The Perception vs Reality of Islam in Europe

Last week’s terror attacks in Paris highlight the tension in Europe between secular Europe and those believing in Islamist values. The Economist looked at some of the available data and noted the gap between Europe’s perception of Islam and its reality. A quick figure called out for France, French respondents thought 31% of the French population to be Muslim. The reality is a mere 8%.

Perception vs reality
Perception vs reality

Credit for the piece goes to the Economist Data Team.

Hit-and-Run Cycling Accidents in Los Angeles

Today’s piece comes via a colleague. It is an article about hit-and-run cycling accidents in and around Los Angeles. The data visualisation in the article is not entirely complex—we are talking only about line charts and bar charts—but they support the arguments and statements in the article. And in that sense they are doing their job.

Locations of hit-and-run accidents in and around LA
Locations of hit-and-run accidents in and around LA

Credit for the piece goes to Armand Emamdjomeh, Laura J. Nelson, and Joseph Serna.

Investigating the NYPD for Excessive Force

Sometimes complaints about excessive police force are frivolous or vindictive in nature. Sometimes, however, they are legitimate. In New York, the Civilian Complaint Review Board is the first line of investigation. It makes recommendations that the NYPD then takes up. Or not. This piece from WNYC looks at how the NYPD has responded to those recommendations.

What the NYPD chose to do with cases in which charges were recommended
What the NYPD chose to do with cases in which charges were recommended

In total, the piece is a guided story. Each step morphs the data into a new display. Overall a small, but quite nice piece.

Credit for the piece goes to the WNYC graphics department.

Mass Shootings in the United States

America loves its gun. The big draw of this piece from the Washington Post is the illustration of the guns used in the mass shootings and whether each was legally or illegally acquired. But more interesting from a data visualisation standpoint are the charts below. They show the numbers of killers, victims, and then the demographics of the killers.

Killers and Victims
Killers and Victims

Credit for the piece goes to Alberto Cuadra, Richard Johnson, Todd Lindeman, Ted Mellnik, and Kennedy Elliott