The graphic above shows Ron Pattinson’s Whitbread production data from 1902 too 1914 plotted as ‘sparklines’ using Excel 2010′s built-in function.
Sparklines are small line graphs without scales or labels designed to give a quick visual impression of a trend over time. They’re another Edward Tufte innovation and he apparently describes them as “data-intense, design-simple, word-sized graphics” — graphs that can be used like elements of type, without the need for plates or “See Fig. 12″.
But is the above graphic illuminating? More so than yesterday’s slopegraph, perhaps, but probably not as much as the traditional line graph below.
Next: the Rock Family Trees approach to understanding the relationships between British breweries.
Like Alan ‘A Good Beer Blog’ McLeod, we’re keen to see more meaningful attempts to visualise the sea of information that surrounds beer — that is, not just whizzy infographics heavy on the graphics but light on info.
In a recent post, Alan directed us towards the work of visualisation guru Edward Tufte, which led us to this excellent blog post on an early innovation of Tufte’s: ‘slopegraphs’.
So, here’s some of Ron Pattinson’s data, drawn painstakingly from the Whitbread archives, presented as a (crude) slopegraph.
First thoughts? Well, it doesn’t show us anything Ron wasn’t able to express better in words (IPA up, Mild declining surprisingly early), but it might be useful to some ‘visual learners‘. And, as Charlie Park points out, aren’t slopegraphs really just rearranged line charts? (They certainly are the way me make ‘em.)
The chart above was created in Excel and exported to a graphics package for formatting and labelling. It uses a consistent scale, hence the big gap in the middle, which is, in itself, illustrative. UPDATED 02/05/2012: removed bounding box — see comments below.