Saturday, November 21, 2015

One chart to rule them all

In a Dilbert cartoon titled The Generic Graph on November 18th, the pointy haired boss explained that:

“The company is standardizing on this one chart.”

which was why he had used it yesterday for the travel budget and today for the sales estimate. (It also could work for coffee consumption and Bigfoot sightings).

What is that chart for? Does it show what was (history), what is (current data), or what will be (a prediction we hope will come true)?

Look more carefully. How much data was used to draw that line?  Perhaps the curve just is a spline interpolation that exactly fits those three gray points. Would a fitted straight line have been more honest?

You can’t really expect to use just one chart type. At Perceptual Edge there is a Graph Selection Matrix that includes lines, points, bars, and boxes. At they discuss Time Series Graphs & Eleven Stunning Ways You Can Use Them.

One chart came from Tolkien’s One Ring.

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