Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Graphing 1

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Data presentation is an endless source of frustration and lost opportunities. The first thing which I keep failing to understand are the news. When publishing news reports on the web it became de rigueur in the late 1990s to not write about large companies without adding a link to their stock information after the name. Personally I never cared for such things and I wonder who does. In particular I’d assume that people who really are interested in stock deals will have their own preferred stock data service already and not need some numbers provided by a random newspaper.

Many U.S. sites use the company’s ‘stock symbol’, a four letter word or acronym (say JAVA) for the link to the stock information. This isn’t done in Germany for some reason. Possibly companies just being traded by their real names or something. So what German sites often do, and some U.S. sites do as well is to display a little icon that looks like a graph next to the company name to indicate the link.

Stock markers on the Spiegel Online site

However, that icon is just a generic graph icon which is the same for all companies. Tufte readers will feel the pain of a lost opportunity here as the icon could at least indicate the rough recent movements of that stock’s price even with computer screens being far from good enough for full microtypographical data richness.

Cynical endnote: Of course news sites exist to create ‘page impressions’ rather than for efficiently communicating information. And thus they are doing the Right Thing™.

August 26, 2007, 12:53

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