Great article over at Seed about some of the current shortcomings in the data visualization craze. Three things I learned:
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.”