Jon and I chat about non-zero baselines

Earlier this week, I got a rare chance to chat in person with my friend Jon Schwabish (policyviz.com) who was in town for a quick trip. We recorded a short chat on a topic that's been generating some buzz in the data viz world lately: non-zero baselines (which I've previously blogged about here and here) and whether it is ever ok to start the y-axis of your graph at a value other than zero.

Check out the following to hear our chat. Leave a comment here or on Twitter (me | Jon) to join in the conversation!

A couple visuals we referenced while talking:

The graphs we had up on Jon's computer as we were chatting:

From Drew Skau's recent Visual.ly blog post

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what you can expect in 2015

I just pulled up my blog and noticed that my last post was published on October 31st. Exactly 69 days ago. Or, in other words, long than I've ever gone without posting. Yikes. It's not that I haven't been writing. I've actually been writing a lot. But we'll get to that in a moment. With this post, I'm officially ending my blog silence and letting you know about some exciting things I expect to happen in 2015.

In addition to posting here on a more regular basis, I'll be spending my time on a mix of public workshops, custom workshops, and may even be appearing on a bookshelf near you. Here's some detail on each of these areas:

PUBLIC WORKSHOPS
I plan to offer a number of public workshops this year, where individuals can register and attend. Workshops have already been scheduled in San Francisco, Seattle, and London, and I expect to add more in Chicago and on the East Coast in 2015. State-side, these are 3-hour sessions that provide an overview of data visualization theory and best practices, with a focus on practical application of lessons learned for telling a compelling story with data. In London, I'll be conducting a full-day session on the same topic (this is being offered as a pre-conference workshop ahead of Tucana Global's People Analytics conference, but will be relevant for non-HR folks, too). Details and registration for upcoming public workshops can be found here.

CUSTOM WORKSHOPS
I'll also continue to provide custom workshops to organizations. These are typically half-day sessions that arm participants with a solid foundation for communicating with data, with hands-on practice applying the lessons learned to the team's specific work. More information on these sessions can be found here.

storytelling with data: THE BOOK
Most exciting for me is a project I've been working on (one of the reasons posts here have been few and far between lately) that is nearing completion: storytelling with data the book. I have codified the lessons I teach in my workshops and am excited to offer them alongside many real world examples in a comprehensive reading. I'm nearly finished writing and if everything stays on track, it should be available for purchase later this year. Stay tuned here for the latest.

I'm looking forward to a great 2015 and I hope yours is off to a fantastic start!

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annotated line graph from Uber

With the email that hit my inbox earlier this afternoon, Uber has impressed me twice in the past week. The first time was in response to a simple comment that accompanied my '3' numerical rating (the lowest I've ever given): "With the world series game today, should have avoided stadium area." I had an email in my inbox from Uber's customer service within the hour agreeing that was a silly route given the Giants' game and reducing the price to what it would have been without the crazy traffic. Amazing.

And now they've done it again, this time via effective data viz. The annotated line graph below shows expected Uber demand over the course of the evening and into the wee hours of morning. This is one of those rare cases where they can get away without showing the y-axis values at all, since the relative peaks and valleys are more interesting (and meaningful) than the absolute numbers.

Nice job Uber. Though I must say this makes me happy to report that kiddie Halloween in my neighborhood is on foot, so no need to even think about surge-pricing here!

Speaking of which, I find it impossible to publish a post on Halloween without couple pics of my superhero family.

Happy Halloween!

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SF housing cycles visualized

If you've shopped for real estate in San Francisco recently, you've likely experienced the crazy world of multiple offers, waived contingencies, and all-cash deals well above asking price. We've been house shopping here for nearly two years, without much to show except a jaded view of the market and an ever-increasing pile of home-for-sale flyers. My husband and I joke that our toddler will grow up thinking that's what you do on the weekends: go look at other people's houses.

If you've been in this situation, or a similar one, you've perhaps also wondered (like us) whether prices will continue to increase at the rate they have been, or if there is an elusive bubble that is about to pop. To that end, we came across the visual below, which depicts a simplified view of San Francisco housing market cycles over the past few decades.

If you've followed this blog for long, you might expect that I will next proceed to rip the above visual apart. But I am not going to. 

I actually really like it. 

Sure, there are some minor things that could be changed. But let's focus instead on the good: it's well-labeled, both in terms of titles and text annotation on the graph itself. There is a clear narrative that calls out some interesting things in the data. For example, over the past 30+ years, the period between a recovery beginning and a bubble popping has been about 6 years.

According to the graph, the last recovery began in 2012, which would put the next bubble pop at approximately 2018.

Which means there's still time to buy before we hit the peak... 

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show the full picture!

I've posted a number of times about Pew Research articles. Well, not the articles exactly, but rather the visuals they contain. To be honest, it's rare that I read the actual article. I scan the headlines as they hit my inbox and if something piques my interest, I follow the link and scroll through the article, not reading, but taking a discerning look at the graphs. Check out this post for makeovers of two Pew Research graphs on the topic of women bosses.

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design with audience in mind

In this post, I makeover less-than-ideal visuals from a recent USA Today graphic summarizing diversity stats across a number of Bay Area tech companies and discuss my design thought process when doing so.

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