You have arrived at the web home of Noah Brier. This is mostly an archive of over a decade of blogging and other writing. You can read more about me or get in touch. If you want more recent writing of mine, most of that is at my BrXnd marketing x AI newsletter and Why Is This Interesting?, a daily email for the intellectually omnivorous.

April, 2009

Bad Data Visualization

Great article over at Seed about some of the current shortcomings in the data visualization craze. Three things I learned:
  1. A guy named William Playfair invested the pie chart: "In 1801 he represented the relative proportions of African, Asiatic, and European dominions of the Ottoman Empire with a clever diagram, a sectored circle that showed the whole and its parts simultaneously."
  2. There's a hierarchy of visual calculations humans are good at: Good at linear distance, pretty bad at angles and terrible at area and volume.
  3. Some people are combining human pattern recognition with computer data visualization: "an effective way of detecting patterns in massive data sets is to make a simple chart for each subset and view the hundreds of charts in quick succession. The human perceptual system is phenomenally good at spotting patterns."
April 8, 2009
Noah Brier | Thanks for reading. | Don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.