Small multiples everywhere!
My latest developments which involve exploring multidimensional data are ending up with one of the dataviz techniques that I like most: small multiples. This is a concept introduced by Edward Tufte and is described as:
“Illustrations of postage-stamp size are indexed by category or a label, sequenced over time like the frames of a movie, or ordered by a quantitative variable not used in the single image itself.”
To summarize, it’s the use of the same basic graphic or chart to display difference slices of a data set.
Here below two samples of small multiples we are doing at Siris Academics. The first one is the display of several regions from Italy, quantified by multiples metrics. The nice thing here is that these metrics are grouped by different concepts, such as demography, economics, etc… so based on the shape you are able to detect if a region is performing well in an specific category or not.
And another one is to show the distribution of projects assigned to an Institution, on the scope of the FP7, the European Union’s Research and Innovation funding programme for 2007-2013. This one is a work in progress, but thanks to the small multiples display a lot of new ideas for visualizing the data are arising.