When Allen Noren pointed to this visualization of U.S. government bailouts, I wanted to tweak it by showing the magnitudes on a timeline. I found this data set on Many Eyes, updated it with the number $700B, and made this bubble chart:
Bailouts by year (Many Eyes)
It was quick and easy to do that, and the result was automatically shared in a social environment that invites discussion and revisualization.
But the visualization wasn’t quite what I wanted. So I fired up Excel and made this version:
Bailouts by year (Excel)
That does what I meant1. It also took longer, was harder, and isn’t automatically shared as an active object in a social environment on the web.
The reason it took longer and was harder is that I couldn’t find a way to automate the creation, placement, and rotation of custom labels. That might be more than we can expect a software wizard to do. But there are plenty of human wizards who know how to do it, and some of them probably have automation tricks up their sleeves.
That makes two reasons I wish that Excel could share active objects into social environments on the web. First, so that a la Many Eyes, we could more directly riff on one anothers’ visualizations. Second, so that we could more easily teach one another how to use Excel to become more active participants in a world of data-driven abstractions.
1 Well, almost. I’d rather cluster the 2008 bubbles within an aggregate bubble.