The Universe of Discourse

Tue, 05 Oct 2010


In his awesome classic The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Edward Tufte presents this infographic:

Tufte says "Here five colors report, almost by happenstance, only five pieces of data (since the division within each year adds to 100 percent). This may well be the worst graphic ever to find its way into print."

Unfortunately the standards of the Internet can be even lower than those of print, as exhibited by this infographic, produced by Pingdom:

This infographic outdoes Tufte's example: it reports not five but four pieces of data.

Chapter 6 of Tufte's book, "Data-Ink Maximization and Graphical Design", explores the exercise of erasing all the ink from an infographic that does not perform the function of communicating data. If we were to take this a little farther, and replace the original 80,265-byte graphic file with the 32 bytes of numeric data that it was designed to communicate, we might conclude that the image contained an astounding 99.96% chartjunk.

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