Best Practices

Mental Models

Whenever I teach my “data visualization best practices” courses, I always include an introductory overview about mental models – an explanation of a person’s thought process about how something works in the real world. I do this because understanding mental … Continue reading

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“Time is [Not] on My Side”: Using Time Efficiently When Developing Dashboards

In 1657, the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal apologized for a very lengthy letter he had written thus: “This letter is so long only because I had no time to make it shorter.” Over 350 years later, his words … Continue reading

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The Hammock Chronicles (2016 Edition)

Long-time subscribers to this newsletter know that every August, my family and I retreat to Bustins Island in Casco Bay, Maine, where I commandeer the hammock and contemplate life (along with the inside of my eyelids). (Check out previous posts … Continue reading

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My Secret Tip for Testing Data Visualizations

This past Sunday my husband, Bret, our pup, Juno, and I headed out to Deer Island in Massachusetts Bay. We love this walk because of the fantastic views it affords of the Bay and of Boston, and because the island’s … Continue reading

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David Bowie vs. Alan Gilbert

I recently watched Charlie Rose interview New York Philharmonic conductor Alan Gilbert (pictured at right). During the interview, Gilbert described how he slowly and in small increments moved the Philharmonic musicians (and by extension their audiences) from a traditional view … Continue reading

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Love, Time, Environment

As my daughter Annie’s tenth birthday approached, our friend Erik asked her what special gift she was hoping for. Without hesitation, Annie responded, “A crane.” We all turned and looked at her in astonishment. What would a ten-year-old girl want … Continue reading

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Let This Chart Fall Off Your Radar

Don’t you just hate things that look really cool but simply don’t work? You know: the fancy all-in-one kitchen gizmo that cuts nothing but your fingers, or the software that’s supposed to “boost processing speed by 64%” and has made … Continue reading

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“Lower is Better” – Flip the Display!

Several years ago, we bought a house with a truly fabulous kitchen-high-end everything, including a German-engineered faucet that brought us to our knees trying to figure out how to turn it on. (I kid you not: this was a literal … Continue reading

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Children Can Kill You

Every time my daughter Annie would pull some heart-stopping, daredevil stunt in the swimming pool, on the ski slopes, or while roller-blading with her friends, I would hear two distinct voices in my head. The first was my mother’s as … Continue reading

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Scale Matters

Choosing the right graph type to display your healthcare data is only part of the battle. You also need to keep an eye on details such as the scale of the graph’s axes. Software applications default to the maximum value … Continue reading

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