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Week 2: I.B.M. Study Quantifies the Pain of the Commuting Motorist
09-03-2014, 08:15 PM (This post was last modified: 09-06-2014 10:38 AM by u0866707.)
Post: #1
Week 2: I.B.M. Study Quantifies the Pain of the Commuting Motorist
This is a speedometer graphic represents “the emotional and economic toll” of commuting in 20 international cities. Mexico City, with a score of 108, ranked as the most onerous. The picture is downloaded from New York Times, and the author is Cheryl Jensen at September 9, 2011. The website is: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/...blogs&_r=0.

First of all, the graph use a speedometer can show what a driver always see, especially in a traffic jam. This is a very creative and ingenious way to see the pain index as the slower speed, the more anxiety.

And the color of the indexes can reflect the mood of a driver. Red means active and green is released. Half of the red long bars can catch readers' attraction at first glance, which can show how serious the problem is.

Also, the bars are not a standard same-size rectangle, with a narrow bottom and wide top. This makes those high red bars look like larger. The color of the background effectively eliminate the white area, and focus on what the author want to tell us. The word "more pain" and "less pain" in the speedometer instead of something like "anxiety" and "comfort" can be easy reading and acceptive.

I like this visualization and it's quite clear. For the improvement, I think the author can modify the index in another way, like less index means more pain. This can be correspond to how speedometer work in real life.


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09-04-2014, 09:20 PM
Post: #2
RE: I.B.M. Study Quantifies the Pain of the Commuting Motorist
For the most part, I agree with this critique. This visualization does well leveraging "chart junk" to emphasize which cities have the most commuter pain. Additionally, the color selection suits the notion of varying pain levels well (although, I question why shades differ in a vertical fashion rather than radially).

You raised a very interesting point about there being more commuter pain at the lower speeds. I agree that this is a very creative way of arranging the items presented, in this case cities. While it may be counter-intuitive due to our (or at least my own) inclination to order items in ascending order from left to right, the choice of color and relative size of the "More Pain" bars in comparison to the "Less Pain" bars make this ordering work.

My largest disagreement with this critique concerns the background. While it may have a tendency to direct attention to the speedometer due to its shape, the base of the speedometer needle acts as a much better method of directing attention due to it's ability to "pop out" due to color selection and contrast. As such, I feel that the background is unnecessary and distracting (especially given what I feel to be an awkward color choice).

One of the largest improvements that I feel could be made is to remove the scores next to each city. In my case, I found these confusing as the visualization provides no indication as to what the index is based on or what these values actually mean. Viewing the visualization as a standalone entity, I see little value in including these scores because bar size and color effectively establish relative difference.
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09-05-2014, 01:23 PM
Post: #3
RE: I.B.M. Study Quantifies the Pain of the Commuting Motorist
The graphic scores high on the memorability factor in my opinion, given that it is using a speedometer to depict the toll of commuting in 20 international cities. I feel this graphic would work well with most of the people as it also indirectly serves to provide semantics or real world information it is trying to describe just in terms of the graphic.

I would agree with the choice of colors used for depicting the varying levels of pain and personally feel that the different shades used in the vertical bars accentuates the difference in levels more clearly as I see read the bars from left to right owing to the bright red color used for depicting "more" pain. In fact the graphic also works on the factor that it uses red and green colors at the ends and yellow at the center, catching our attention of the entire visualization instead of just focusing on the center/middle portion, which human eye tends to do.

The things that don't work with me with this visualization are more or less similar to what u0923385 has described. The background diminishes the data-ink ratio and does not add anything to the graphic. Also the vertical bars towards the right doesn't translate to be a representation of the numerical quantities involved. I see the bar for NewYork being slightly higher than that of Madrid though both cities have the same index value of 28. Also the closer the index values are, the lesser is our ability to differentiate them. This orientation kind of questions the trustworthiness of the graphic.

An improvement which I would suggest is that the score or index values could be fitted inside the speedometer in more generic terms with values from 0-120 in intervals of 10 with clear calibration inside for identifying the in between values. This would make it less disturbing and more appealing.
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09-06-2014, 10:23 AM (This post was last modified: 09-06-2014 10:26 AM by Derek Nelson.)
Post: #4
RE: I.B.M. Study Quantifies the Pain of the Commuting Motorist
I agree with the critique that there is lots about this that is really familiar. At first I didn't notice that it was a speedometer that showed when the traffic is going fast that you will have less pain. I also agree that there should be a different way to label the index would be more clear if you were wanting to show that there is a relationship between the speedometer and the amount of pain or anxiety goes up when the speeds are slower.

The notion that the bars are larger on the edges gives the allusion that they are larger. Also on the right side of the visualization I noticed that the values are really close to the same but it looks like the bars are even smaller than they should be. It appears to not have a common reference point.

I would suggest to change this to a bar graph because the speedometer that is in the middle is confusing me. I looks like the pain scale is the tick marks on the speedometer but in reality it is the bar length, and the tick marks are just there for show.

As to the data to ink ratio. The background doesn't need to be there and the actual speedometer doesn't really need to be there as well. These are just cluttering the visualization. I would say the best data to ink ratio would be when the data is shown in a simple bar chart.
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09-06-2014, 11:06 AM (This post was last modified: 09-06-2014 11:16 AM by u0866707.)
Post: #5
RE: Week 2: I.B.M. Study Quantifies the Pain of the Commuting Motorist
I agree with your idea that using speedometer needle maybe a better choice to fit our common sense. But my confusion is how the way to point to these 20 more cities used only one needle?

And I don't think the background is quite distracted because the three fade gradient color circles can focus us on the middle part. But I do agree there is no clue about what the index values mean?

(09-04-2014 09:21 PM)u0923385 Wrote:  For the most part, I agree with this critique. This visualization does well leveraging "chart junk" to emphasize which cities have the most commuter pain. Additionally, the color selection suits the notion of varying pain levels well (although, I question why shades differ in a vertical fashion rather than radially).

You raised a very interesting point about there being more commuter pain at the lower speeds. I agree that this is a very creative way of arranging the items presented, in this case cities. While it may be counter-intuitive due to our (or at least my own) inclination to order items in ascending order from left to right, the choice of color and relative size of the "More Pain" bars in comparison to the "Less Pain" bars make this ordering work.

My largest disagreement with this critique concerns the background. While it may have a tendency to direct attention to the speedometer due to its shape, the base of the speedometer needle acts as a much better method of directing attention due to it's ability to "pop out" due to color selection and contrast. As such, I feel that the background is unnecessary and distracting (especially given what I feel to be an awkward color choice).

One of the largest improvements that I feel could be made is to remove the scores next to each city. In my case, I found these confusing as the visualization provides no indication as to what the index is based on or what these values actually mean. Viewing the visualization as a standalone entity, I see little value in including these scores because bar size and color effectively establish relative difference.

Good observation for the NY part! Still, we don't have explanation in this chart.Blush

(09-05-2014 01:23 PM)Anirudh Wrote:  The graphic scores high on the memorability factor in my opinion, given that it is using a speedometer to depict the toll of commuting in 20 international cities. I feel this graphic would work well with most of the people as it also indirectly serves to provide semantics or real world information it is trying to describe just in terms of the graphic.

I would agree with the choice of colors used for depicting the varying levels of pain and personally feel that the different shades used in the vertical bars accentuates the difference in levels more clearly as I see read the bars from left to right owing to the bright red color used for depicting "more" pain. In fact the graphic also works on the factor that it uses red and green colors at the ends and yellow at the center, catching our attention of the entire visualization instead of just focusing on the center/middle portion, which human eye tends to do.

The things that don't work with me with this visualization are more or less similar to what u0923385 has described. The background diminishes the data-ink ratio and does not add anything to the graphic. Also the vertical bars towards the right doesn't translate to be a representation of the numerical quantities involved. I see the bar for NewYork being slightly higher than that of Madrid though both cities have the same index value of 28. Also the closer the index values are, the lesser is our ability to differentiate them. This orientation kind of questions the trustworthiness of the graphic.

An improvement which I would suggest is that the score or index values could be fitted inside the speedometer in more generic terms with values from 0-120 in intervals of 10 with clear calibration inside for identifying the in between values. This would make it less disturbing and more appealing.

Ha! If a simple bar chart can works for everybody, we don't need this class any more I thinkBlush

(09-06-2014 10:23 AM)Derek Nelson Wrote:  I agree with the critique that there is lots about this that is really familiar. At first I didn't notice that it was a speedometer that showed when the traffic is going fast that you will have less pain. I also agree that there should be a different way to label the index would be more clear if you were wanting to show that there is a relationship between the speedometer and the amount of pain or anxiety goes up when the speeds are slower.

The notion that the bars are larger on the edges gives the allusion that they are larger. Also on the right side of the visualization I noticed that the values are really close to the same but it looks like the bars are even smaller than they should be. It appears to not have a common reference point.

I would suggest to change this to a bar graph because the speedometer that is in the middle is confusing me. I looks like the pain scale is the tick marks on the speedometer but in reality it is the bar length, and the tick marks are just there for show.

As to the data to ink ratio. The background doesn't need to be there and the actual speedometer doesn't really need to be there as well. These are just cluttering the visualization. I would say the best data to ink ratio would be when the data is shown in a simple bar chart.
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09-07-2014, 02:07 PM
Post: #6
RE: Week 2: I.B.M. Study Quantifies the Pain of the Commuting Motorist
I agree with the critique in most of the cases. Although, I feel the background color could be removed thus taking care of data to ink ratio.

I am not sure about the values that have been indicated on the bars. I now, higher the number, more the pain in the commute but is there any limit to these number? The author should have mentioned it.

I like this graphic representation of the speedometer and I am glad that it was brought up.
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09-07-2014, 03:22 PM
Post: #7
RE: Week 2: I.B.M. Study Quantifies the Pain of the Commuting Motorist
In general, I think this speedometer presents clear information and I would agree with the critique for most the part. The red and green bars indicate more pain and less pain that effectively shows emotional expression. Although we could tell that a smaller number means less pain and a larger number means more pain, I think adding a legend may avoid misunderstand of these indexes since I didn't get it at first.

Shenzen and Beijing (as well as Madrid and New York City) have same index but they are placed in different position, if there is no implicit meaning I think placing them in a same position would be better, like Shenzen, Beijing 95. I was confused by placing them in different positions. In addition, I agree with Anirudh's comments that adding clear calibration inside of the speedometer that would improve readability.

The background works fine to me. The current background looks beautiful although it sacrifices some readability.
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09-07-2014, 06:25 PM
Post: #8
RE: Week 2: I.B.M. Study Quantifies the Pain of the Commuting Motorist
The first element that caught my eyes was the speedometer for the graph. Seems like a good idea to represent a study about commuter problems in a way they can relate to. The use of the Traffic Light color (Red, Yellow and Green) scheme for vertical bars fits well with the topic of study. It is quite a clever move since the usual color to represent any kind of discomfort, alarm or pain is Red. So, the colors are quite easy to relate to.

Anirudh mentioned that it seemed like the bar for NY seemed a little taller than that of Madrid although they have the same index values. I for one didn't notice that until it was pointed out. The confusion might be because of the circular positioning of the bars. But I wouldn't want to change that because then it would destruct the whole illusion of a speedometer it creates.

The background color is unnecessary yet NOT distracting. A plain white color would give the same effect as the one the present background provides.

The problem, for me at least, was when I looked at the details in the graph. I was quite confused about the index values since the graph itself did not have any key to indicate what the index values meant. I had to go back and read through the article and u0866707's critique to figure it out. What made it confusing was that the graph transitioned from right(less pain) to left(more pain) as opposed to the real life speedometers that have speed values transitioning from left(less speed) to right(more speed). I realized later (when I read "hehe's" post) that it was done on purpose, more speed would indicate less pain.

The graph is quite simple which I like. As an improvement, I would like to change the direction of transition of pain to Left to Right. The graph would improve by many folds if a key was added into the graph in a way that it would eliminate having to read the article for explanations.
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09-07-2014, 10:34 PM
Post: #9
RE: Week 2: I.B.M. Study Quantifies the Pain of the Commuting Motorist
I think it is a very clever idea to represent the data on a speedometer dial. In once glance, it catches the attention of the reader. Though on close inspection, the radial representation creates some illusions. Foremost, the width of the bars are increasing as it moves away from the dial. This causes the longer bars to appear larger than it actually is.

Second, the radial representation of some of the cities are not actually accurate. Even though Shenzen and Beijing have the same value, it seems like Beijing is in less pain compared to Shenzen. In this case, because the bars are not originating from a level plane nor a simple straight bar, the use of varying height of the bars to represent the level of pain is not clearly visually.

The last aspect of this visualization that I don't agree with is how the colors of the bar is varied. I think changing the color gradually along the bars rather than within each bar would have been a better way to represent the change in degree of pain.

The data to ink ratio also is not very high. I think the background colors are not adding any value to the visualization and can be done without.

Overall, I think this visualization is eye catchy and get the message across on a large scale to the reader. But with a few minor tweaks, it can convey more accurate information.
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09-07-2014, 11:39 PM
Post: #10
RE: Week 2: I.B.M. Study Quantifies the Pain of the Commuting Motorist
I like how the critique emphasizes it’s data in a clever radial chart of a speedometer. The concept of pain in a traffic jam is measured in terms of speed in the slower you go the more agony is experienced by the driver. The contrasting color on both sides of the chart as well as the size of the bars give a good sense to the viewer of the variance of the data. It’s use of color is pretty good with the general ideas that many use as red being bad and green being good.

One thing I find slightly unnecessary is the use of striped colors in some of the bars, it would make more sense just to have a smooth variance of color in each bar slowly changing from colors closer to red to colors more related to green or so called “softer” colors. Another thing would probably be a legend for the scores to let the user know exactly how “pain” is measured. The background doesn’t seem to do anything but to add ink so that can be dropped. Another thing is the height variance towards similar values in the green side seems a bit off as some smaller ones appear taller than bigger ones but the numbers help the user to still discern the data. Other then some of those small quirks I find this visualization to be quite engaging visually and pretty clear to convey its point without much chart junk.
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