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Monday, February 02, 2004

Best ever Data Visual

I am obsessed with graphs n charts that do the job.

I have the Minard graph framed on my wall and it brings pleasure to study it every time.

French engineer, Charles Minard (1781-1870) whose classic illustration of the disastrous result of Napoleon's failed Russian campaign of 1812 has, IMHO, never been bettered. Check out this ace site.

The Minard graph shows the size of the army by the width of the band across the map of the campaign on its outward and return legs, with temperature on the retreat shown on the line graph at the bottom.

I have a favourite story about a Tufte lecture I attended in 1995 in Bellevue, WA. We were all duly forking out for ET's two books but there were also copies of the Minard available. As we shuffled forward to have the great man inscribe our copies of his book, I also had the Minard print ready. When it came my turn,

"Mr Tufte - wonderful lecture. Look, you're virtually synonymous with the Minard print, I wonder if you could also sign my copy." Snorts of anti-brown nose derision from behind me: but of course Mr T would demur. What infernal presumption from this Brit creep.

Tufte's nostrils flared with pride and he darted me an appreciative look of salute for my perception. With a flourish he signed the chart and we shook hands.

And from the leonine Sire of Verité, yet another Stats enlivening link.

Takes some navigating, but vaut le detour ... pay attention to my adopted country coming a respectable 23rd in the homicide charts.

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