Tenure and the important of direction and movement in a graphic.

Here is a tenure change report that I did awhile ago in a data viz class. I wanted to post it because I think the page shelf in Tableau is under-utilized. All the pages are shown at once by using the ‘show history’ option in Tableau. This example here shows how tenure in some positions have changed, but others have not. I have two graphs showing the same thing, but in the chart at the bottom I have turned everything to the right. Here are some tips I’ve stumbled upon:

  • A dotted line seems to show ‘something is changing’ better than a solid. It shows impermanence.
  • The past tends to fade. Fade (adding transparency or whiteness) seems to indicate the past better than a change in hue.
  • Keep the change 1 dimensional. After all our dimension of time is one dimensional (and so far one directional).  Sometimes you can get away with 2 though as Hans Rosling has done in http://www.gapminder.org/
  • Up does not mean the same as Down, Left, or Right.

In this chart, I have deliberately chosen Up rather than right.

2nd chart: Notice how everything looks ‘faster’

Although the 1st graph has a wider professor category area, the Number of Positions axis on both are relatively close in size. (Please note that you need to measure to 160k, I forced it to 180k on the 2nd graph to get the label in). However the small changes in perspective change this graph completely.