Symbols for worse

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

Symbols are difficult. In most cases they don’t work. Some of them have to be learnt. It takes longer than reading something you already know – e.g. a word.

Awkward symbols make me sad. The arrow is beside the beautiful river Saône, in beautiful Burgundy:

Source: me

Should you follow the arrow?
Do you have to follow the arrow?
Are you allowed to, if you are careful?

And here from the magazine “Der Spiegel” – oh boy:

Source: Der Spiegel 29/2008, 2008–07–21, p. 65

Oh boy, because: Americans are rigorous with everything concerning their flag.
For instance: whoever wants to be president needs to wear it on the revers.
I don’t think that the editors of Der Spiegel are allowed to enter the US any longer.
Even my flag looks best non-shrunk and non-stretched.

And that:

Source: Wirtschaftswoche 27, 2008–06–30, p. 104

From now on: whenever we see three stars, we know the company will soon be part of the DAX stock index.
One means: probably not.
Says the German magazine “Wirtschaftswoche”.
I am not sure.
Will that be accepted?

I believe for most symbols the rule is:
No entry.

You must not chop

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Again. My law of proportion. The idea of a chart is: Display proportions between values with proportions of length. Proportional. Proportional. Proportional. You can ignore it. You can also lick out an empty bowl. If you are a rather dumb dog.

I yowled on cheating grids for time axis already. They manipulate. This one is even more elaborate. At first glance you think: a nice man, admits he hasn’t got the data. Wrong. He says: “I tease you but I admit it”. Remove 2001. It suggests that 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 have been the same as 2001. Were they, really?

Source: Euro 06/07, p. 42.

This is Howard’s rule „Ignore the visual metaphor altogether” in action. The data doesn’t fit on paper but I show it. A graph doesn’t fit on your paper? Use a table.

Source: Wirtschaftswoche 27, 2008–06–30, p. 82.

I like „Die Süddeutsche“. Its the first newspaper with graphic tables in the stock market section. And now this. The most interesting information – the outliers, the hotshots and the losers, that what you need to know: hidden. I’ll be on vacation.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2008–07–16.

Unruly data? Never mind!

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Graphics lie in many ways. Last week, German journal Wirtschaftswoche favored fudging with time scales. Three times in one issue alone. Indeed statistics are notoriously inaccurate. Often incomplete. Forecasts even more. Never mind, says Wirtschaftswoche. Use wide bars and irregular time scales. Readers might be dumb enough not to notice. Some dogs might not.

Source: Wirtschaftwoche, issue 27/2008 of 2008–06–30, p. 60

Redesign: me

Source: Wirtschaftwoche, issue 27/2008 of 2008–06–30, p. 7 6

Redesign: me

Source: Wirtschaftwoche, issue 27/2008 of 2008–06–30, p. 85

Redesign: me