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mwelch

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi,

I received this infographic from my boss via a shared e-mail stating that it was an "interesting infographic". I'm not sure if that means good infographic or whether it is the subject matter that's interesting. It goes to show what business users and worse still managers might think is a good way of representing data as information graphically.

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sfew

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Reply with quote  #2 
mwelch,

Do you know how to read this?

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Stephen Few
mwelch

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Reply with quote  #3 
Haven't the slightest clue. It looks like something that resembles a series of plot graphs for each browser within a timeline, with some crazy colours/graphics underneath that is supposed show some sort of relationship. I'm sure if I spent a good 5/10 mins to figure it out, I'd work it out, but surely that sort of defeats the object of visualising data.
mwelch

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Reply with quote  #4 
Apologies, it goes cropped....

http://www.evolutionoftheweb.com/?hl=en-gb
sfew

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Reply with quote  #5 
Even when the full visualization is visible and the text description has been read, it remains a mystery. Apparently some products, such as Flash, went backwards in time.
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Stephen Few
gilgongo

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Reply with quote  #6 
I think this is a fascinating example of a number of phenomena in infoviz, but principally in the context in which it was presented "'...from my boss via a shared e-mail stating that it was an "interesting infographic"'. This speaks to my darkest fear: what if they just can't tell the difference? In this case, what if "the boss" simply can't tell the difference between being impressed by a meaningless spectacle like this, and being informed by a representation of data that enables action or informs decision? They are, after all, a boss...

Incidentally, at least they expressed some opinion about it. It's extremely common for those in influential positions to forward stuff like this and not say anything at all - leaving others to guess why they've sent it to them. Many is the time I've been extremely tempted to reply with, "Ha! Indeed - what a load of utter rubbish! Very funny :-)" But the sad dynamics of office politics invariably prevent me. Yet here we have something that leaves all of us simply scratching our heads. Most frustrating.


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jlbriggs

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Reply with quote  #7 
It looks to me like the colored lines might start at what they're considering an official release date (W3C recommendation date...? idk...), and the silly colored lines then connect to the browser version in which they were first implemented, in order of implementation, before shooting off in an arbitrary direction.

This might be the most useless thing that I've seen yet, with what must have been a fair amount of work to produce.
danz

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Reply with quote  #8 
I am quite sure the starting (label) point has nothing to do with the release date of technology, Flash would have been implemented before it was released or WebFonts would have been "released" in 1999 and implemented first time 10 years later. The starting points are as arbitrary as ending points. Well, not entirely. They were dragged in a position where associated labels had enough space to display the text.

They are too many reasons that make such of design wrong, however the main issue is the "solution" the author used to display line connections. Spline curves. Spline curves are part of almost any 2D drawing system, but usage of them in business data display (especially time related graphs) is in most of cases wrong. Spline curves were developed to smoothly connect points, based on slope or curvature continuity (same derivative of certain degree), becoming a de facto standard in CAD industry in early 90's for both 2D and 3D approximation. Such o approximation is rarely useful in data analysis where the points can distort a lot the spline curve from the real shape of a polyline.  See below two examples with spline curves approximation, one which works alright, but the other one introduces clear aberrations in a time related graph. 
splines.png 

Spline curves were developed and proved useful to approximate and smoothly interpolate data in many areas. Business Intelligence is not exactly one of them. Spline curves will always be part of 2D library drawing system, but it does not mean they have to be used just because they exists. For your fun, check http://geometrie.foretnik.net/files/NURBS-en.swf to see several spline related techniques and try to figure it out if they can be useful in any business intelligence related design you ever made.

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