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Friday
Jan022015

Time Travel in Movies

Time Travel TV and Films

A Work in Progess

Work has begun on the Time Travel dataset which encompasses all live-action films and TV shows. Below is an initial chart showing the growth over the years. I believe that additions will be forthcoming with some further research. But this is probably 95% of the material out there. One of the last pieces added was a web series which means I need to do a search in that area.

The final infographic will be a timeline of every movie and TV show using some form of time travel. It will not concentrate on the what or the why as the dataset would be far too involved. Instead, it will highlight the most important aspect of the genre such as the first version of H. G. Well's Time Machine and every occurrence of Groundhog-style film/show.

The final infographic will not include cartoons, anime, live-action shorts, and especially not books. I started collected the book titles and found it nearly impossible to capture them all. So instead of have an incomplete list, this project will focus on live-action films and TV only.

Thursday
Jan012015

Fixing Charts

AARP "You're Old, I'm Not" Article

In the February/March, 2014 issue of AARP, there was an article entitled, You're Old, I'm Not with charts and graphs depicting how people over 50, in four age brackets, answered a few questions. After reading the article I found the information interesting but the charts it contained were less than stellar. They were designed more for the Look at me, I'm a chart! reaction rather than to convey information in a clear and concise manner. Here two of the pages from the article. I've enclosed parts in red borders that I thought could be improved. In the next section are the reworked charts I created in Excel/Illustrator. I will only be focusing on the enclosed portion but the other parts could also be worked on.

The Hair Chart : I understand the colours of the hair chart are to denote ages. Using colour for that purpose is good. But placing them in bars that look like a bar chart, not so good.

Recommendation : Placing the data into a standard bar chart and using either those shades of grey or the bin colours they selected for age groups would work.

The "How Do You Describe" Lists : These lists should either be in alphabetical order or descending percentages. And is there any way to actually compare the answers between the two?

Recommendation : Combine the two lists into one chart pairing like answers and setting unique answers in their individual bins.

The Line Diagram : All the lines are dark grey with circles coloured based on their age grouping. It's difficult to following the ups and down of the individual questions without constantly darting your eyes back and forth.

Recommendation : Line charts usually colour each line a unique colour to enable the reader to smoothly follow one item through the entire chart. If they wanted to maintain that four colour set then colouring the text at the bottom would work better.

The Microphone Graph : Quantitative numbers placed onto a non-uniform shaped make it very difficult to discern which colours are larger than others. The percentages are in the labels but visually don't match up to the amount of colour on the chart. Even though the purple section (43%) is taller than the red section (35%), the red section looks much larger due to the much larger volume of its area. The same effect happens between the teal section (29%) and the navy section (28%). Differing by a mere 1%, the teal section looks much larger.

Recommendation : Again, a standard bar chart would make this extremely readable without the possibility of misinterpreting the data.

The Door Graph : Finally, the doors chart is the first real bar chart in the article. My question is, why is there a door image behind the bars? A simple bar chart would have sufficed instead of placed a non-useful graphic on the page.

Recommendation : I'd remove the doors and set the bars into some type of enclosed setting, possibly with some grid lines.

Reworking The Charts

The first thing to consider is, are any of those extra pieces of fluff on those graphics necessary? No. But designers seem to like putting them in anyway. A good chart will have the necessary information only.

Take the two lists on describing people. With the lists in a random order it's difficult to check similar answers. Want to see how an age group describes itself as younger compares to other people describing it that way? You have to read both lists looking for both answers, Now substitute older for younger. You need to bounce between the two lists again. Now, do you remember the two percentages you just read for younger? Most people won't.

An optimum solution is to combine the two lists into a clustered bar chart that groups like answers together. Look for younger in the chart below. Simple now. Now go find older. Simple again. You can also see that there are three answers that are only in one list, Unhealthy, About Right, and Same As Me. Not only is the chart easier to read, you can glean much more information from it. Most answers from both sides are in the same general range. But now it's easy to see the answers, younger and older have a uneven amount of the responses and they appear as mirror images of each other.

Well, that took care of one list. At this rate, you think this review will take forever. Read on...

Realistically, all the other charts I highlighted could be improved by using a standard bar chart. But they don't really need individual treatment. In fact, doing so prevents the reader from seeing any connections. It felt like the charts were mainly used as space filler. So I combined all the questions from the rest of the charts and created a single line diagram, only I colour-corrected it for readability.

Putting the eight questions into a single line diagram reveals patterns based on those age groups. This is something that can not be seen when all those individual charts were used. There's a general trend of increasing positive answers with only two excepts: Growing older is easier than I thought starts low, increases but falls at the end and I know I'll enjoy sex no matter how old I get which falls through three categories but rise slightly in the 70s category. You can see from this single chart information that is nearly invisible when the data is spread out over half-dozen or so charts.

The only oddball answer set was asking about respect for elders and I'm not sure why there are only two age groups used.

Summary: Pretty vs. Functional

There's no doubt that the original charts are prettier than my new ones. And perhaps, that's what AARP was going for. But there's also no doubt that the charts I created are much more informational and easier to read. From a design standpoint, I understand the need to create intriguing presentations that will bring the reader in. Working as a writer/designer in a data analyst department, I understand the need for clear and concise graphics to convey the maximum amount of information with the less amount of work.

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