On Controversial Vizzes

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On an April 11th Podcast, Wilson and I talked about Andy Cotgreave’s Computerworld article about data visualization criticism. Since then, that article has become a bit of a hot button in the data viz community. I’ll not recap the entire argument here but if you’re interested you can visit Andy’s article which contains comments from Randy Olson and Stephen Few, and links to the original Wall Street Journal visualization as well as Randy’s critique of the viz. I mention this debate merely as a lead-in to my own data viz debate which occurred last week at Tableau’s annual All-Hands meeting in Seattle. There, Andy taught a class about analyzing Time Series data, in which he explored many different techniques for visualizing information that has to do with time. The generally accepted best practice for time series data is of course line chart, but Andy also discussed other techniques including the highlight-table approach linked in the article above. At the end of the class he called for a bit of a competition. Andy shared a data set with the class and asked everyone to build their best time-series view. Well, you all know how much I love competitions. I built the […]

Podcast: Viz Wiz Finals, and Cotgreave’s Law

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Wilson and I have learned a lot this year from operating the Viz Wiz tournament (“Wiz” now officially branded by CMO Elissa Fink as sans-h), which isn’t the first visualization tournament we’ve run at Tableau, but it’s by far the biggest. Next week we’ll crown a champion. For now, listen to our shock-jock analysis of the bracket, the judges, and the competitors left in this year’s tournament. The topic of visual artistry and the decisions made when designing a data viz is muddled with trying to balance the visual best practices, decreed by Edward Tufte and evangelized by new business-focused data scientists like Stephen Few, with design principles long associated with graphics in journalism and other visual mediums. When Andy Cotgreave was on the program a few months ago, he mentioned “Cotgreave’s Law,” which teases that more innovative data visualizations inevitably create more criticism. A recent article Andy published on the topic can be found here. To illustrate this topic, and two of my favorite visual practices – the highlight table and the linear story layout, enjoy an entry from one of the Viz Wiz tournament finalists, Team “Extreme Viz-Over” – the partnership of Rafi Zelikowsky and Luca Bandini. Here’s […]

Podcast: What is Self Service?

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The cocktail scene has gotten out of control. I can go to a bar in Manhattan and spend $20 on a drink. I guess I’m paying for the ambience or service or decor at a fancy bar or maybe I’m paying for the fact that it’s “crafted” for me by a guy wearing suspenders because remember when people wore suspenders? Me either. Anyway this episode is about Self Service Analytics. If you want to subscribe to the podcast, you can do so on iTunes or on Stitcher.