Tag Archives: d3

So much we don’t know about visualization

It’s always amazing how many basic visualization questions are yet to be answered. Robert Kosara raised one yesterday: What is the most effective way to show large scale differences?

Rather than using a bar chart to represent values, he made a demo that sequentially shows dots to demonstrate how many more times a CEO makes than a worker. His solution looked compelling, but I realized that I don’t know of any literature in vis that has empirically tackled this problem. A goal as simple as visualizing a pair of values of very different scale has few (if any) guidelines.

Furthermore, although there have been a few papers on animation in charts (e.g. [2, 4]), the basic approach of using animation to represent a single value still has many unanswered questions.

Robert’s demo used both numerocity and duration of the animation to visualize each value. I forked his code to make a demo of some alternative animation styles (options at the bottom), but I don’t know of any literature that hints if or why one would be better than another:

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