You know how people love maps with little shapes encoding some data? Hexagons, circles, squares? Jigsaw pieces? Opal Fruits?
Or small multiples?
You know how people love charts made from emojis?
Stick them together and what do you get?
This is by Lazaro Gamio. They’re not standard emojis. Six variables get cut into ordinal categories and mapped to various expressions. You can hover on the page (his page, not mine, ya dummy) for more info. Note that some of the variables don’t change much from state to state. Uninsured, college degrees, those change, but getting enough sleep — not so much. It must be in there because it seems fun to map it to bags under the eyes. But the categorisation effectively standardises the variables so small changes in sleep turn into a lot of visual impact. Anyway, let’s not be too pedantic, it’s fun.
This idea goes back to Herman Chernoff, who always made it clear it wasn’t a totally serious proposal, and has been surprised at its longevity (see his chapter in PPF). Bill Cleveland was pretty down on the idea in his ’85 book:
“not enough attention was paid to graphical perception … visually decoding the quantitative information is just too difficult”