Some people understand something better when it’s explained to them in words. Personally, I prefer to see a picture. More specifically, I like charts.
Scott Adams (of Dilbert) wrote about this topic yesterday, prompted by a bit he saw on Bill Maher’s show.
The other night on Bill Maher’s show he held up a pie chart showing the percentage of U.S. corporations now controlled by the government. It was a tiny slice, more of a line than a wedge. Bill’s point is that we’re not on the verge of becoming socialists. That was an interesting graphic and very powerful for his argument.
What prompted me to write this was an email GB sent me today, a Venn diagram in Lifehacker I’d seen a few days ago and forgotten to star in Google reader (and thus forgot where I’d seen it):
The Venn diagram may be my favourite chart type. My favourite Indexed cartoons are Venn diagrams…
…and one of my favourite tshirts is this one from Diesel Sweeties:
Of course, charts of any flavour can do a good job of conveying lots of information in a tiny package. Last week I wrote a whole blog post about three good charts. Two weeks ago I made my own chart to illustrate the ideal conditions for emptying my PVR. I subscribe to feeds like The Economist’s daily chart and Flowing Data ’cause there’s always something interesting in there.
I very nearly drew a chart to explain how useful charts can be, but that seemed redundant. And overly geeky.