What can I say, I think it’s funny. Pie chart humor with real pie. Ha.
I am impressed at the time and effort someone put into trimming the pie plates, thinking through the crosshatching, and trying to get some different colors going on.
The text of the original post reads:
“THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT VISUAL PUN TO HAVE EVER BEEN POSTED ON THE INTERNET.”
I’d take that with a grain of salt, especially considering the gratuitous use of all caps. Probably it’s meant to be ironic or sarcastic or some other hipster attitude that I am too old to absorb osmotically.
Readers, dear readers, I know my regulars are sick of hearing about how much I hate pie charts. But I came across Stephen Few’s latest newsletter – Mr. Few is a man who is a professional information graphics guru and he hates pie charts, too. Of course, he is a professional and he doesn’t use the word hate. When I saw his newsletter, a smug smile of satisfaction crossed my face and I thought to myself, “Self, maybe the readers are sick of hearing you complain about pie charts, but they might want to hear how someone else complains about them. Because: Look! He has illustrations!”.
In the first pie chart, a person might be convinced that pie charts are a decent tool. Just look at how easy it is to see that the light green segment is 25%? Super easy. Without even thinking, it’s obvious, which is the mark of a good information graphic. As for the other segments…same problem as always. Most humans are not good at visually estimating rounded volumes.
And what if we simply rotated the pie a little?
Now it is much more difficult to get a quick visual estimate of any of the segments, even the 25% piece and all Mr. Few did was rotate the pie. Mr. Few notes that when people use software to generate pies like this, they have little control over what piece of the pie ends up in which position. He explains that our eyes have very few visual metaphors for segmented circles, one of which is the clock: “In the earlier example, our ability to decode the green slice at 25% was assisted by the fact that the green slice began at the 6 o’clock position and extended neatly to the 9 o’clock position.”
Perhaps we solve the problem by just sticking the numerical value right near the slices of pie? He does that and then adds another layer saying, “Why stop here? ….We can solve this problem by directly labeling the slices with both the company names and the values…” which leads to this graphic:
But that leads him to a conclusion that I support which is that this information is much easier on the eye if it’s just in a simple table. The pie itself just confuses things.
Much clearer in a table, no? I think so. And so does Mr. Few.
Analyzing the visual presentation of social data. Each post, Laura Norén takes a chart, table, interactive graphic or other display of sociologically relevant data and evaluates the success of the graphic. Read more…