Tag clouds are histograms
Multiple line comparisons

Poll results and "Alabama first!"

Poll results are often presented with pie charts or bar charts.  When the responders are divided into segments (male/female, age groups, etc.), the grouped bar chart is the favored graphic.  With small number of groups (2-3), the stacked bar chart works better, as in here (the left chart is the original):


The pollster wants to know what are the major obstacles to adopting the new technology called Web services.  The responders were grouped according to their response: very, somewhat and not concerned.

Given that question, the key result should be a ranking of the factors, from most important to least.  That is done in the junkchart version on the right.  Specifically, "Security" has the least proportion of "not concerned" responses. 

One can also re-order according to the greatest proportion of "very concerned" responses; when I tried that, I noticed that "Confusion about the alphabet soup ..." and "Cost of training" had few "very" responses but a lot of "somewhat" responses.  I made the decision to treat those two categories as one, in essence.

How were the factors ordered in the original chart?  Howard Wainer (book1 and book2) coined this rationale "Alabama first!" since Alabama is placed first in an alphabetical listing of the 50 U.S. States.  Alabama first is very often used but most often sub-optimal; one exception was the tag cloud.

Reference: "The Adolescent Web Services", IT Architect, Oct 2005.


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