Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bloomberg Visual Data's connected scatter plot

The Visual Data team at Bloomberg launched a nifty connected scatter plot in January. They have updated it today. It displays the covariation of Super Bowl ticket prices (Y-axis) and the number of tickets available on secondary market (X-axis.) Notice the little "how to read this graphic" box.*

As I wrote a while ago, I like connected scatter plots a lot if they are used with for a good reason, not just to make the graphic look "creative." They are, like histograms and scatter plots, underused in news publications. Why? I don't know. Perhaps because journalists tend to belittle the intelligence of their audience.

During my years in newsrooms I heard several editors say: "Our readers won't understand something as unusual and complex as this," an objection that I'd like to be seriously tested and that I tried to dispel in The Functional Art, and also in posts like this. A graphic form will only stop being "unusual" if you use it on a regular basis, so readers can learn to decode it.

*As usual, may I make a suggestion? When I hover over one of the points, or click on it, I'd like to see the date, and the same moment in time highlighted on the other lines that are visible on screen.