Standing in the right place

Much is made these days about beautiful data visualization and how subtle but sophisticated presentation can bring important details to the fore. But I think the best visualization always comes down to having the best seats. If you’re in the right place when the poop goes down, you’ve got all the visualization you need.

For instance, here is some wind speed data from a buoy floating in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, this is NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center Station 42001. The subtitle to this picture is: See if you can guess when the hurricane went by.

What correlation do you notice between wind speed and atmospheric pressure? If I told you that Hurricane Rita came visiting during the reporting period, could you make a guess as to when? Can you suggest a scenario that might account for the following notes from this station’s website?

Station 42001 went adrift on 09/23/2005 and the last report from its moored position (listed above) was at 0230 GMT.

The best data visualization is often determined by collecting the right data at the right time. Which brings me to a little visualization I saw on Ben Hyde’s site. The question: does the meal schedule affect a judge’s decisions?

Once again, the important thing was to find the right vantage point. Once you decide to correlate food breaks with favorable parole decisions, the visualization speaks for itself. It’s one little jagged line, but it’s very eloquent. When do you want to appear in court?

Mmmm. Donuts.

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