child's play and a bit about data visualization

The books have closed on Child’s Play 2010, and this year’s total is a truly awe-inspiring 2.3 million dollars. With 2010 in the total, this means that cumulatively, Child’s Play has raised just shy of nine million dollars. Nine million dollars over the last eight years, every single cent of it helping to improve the life of a sick kid. If that’s not something to be proud of, I don’t know what is.

But I didn’t sit down in front of the computer today to talk to you about that. I do that enough. Instead, we’re going to talk about this sweet chart I made. Incidentally, at the time of this writing, Googling “sweet chart I made” returns this as the first result. Who am I to disagree?

Last year’s chart was put together with Numbers. I’m generally very happy with Numbers—certainly much happier than I ever was with the sluggish, bloated, obtuse mess that is Microsoft Excel—but the chart I produced last year has some problems. The spacing on the x-axis looks weird, and that’s a poor way to format a date anyway. Since the key shows the annual totals, it kind of defeats the point of the chart. And why did I go with a filled line chart? Because every year has many missing data points, and a filled chart was the only way to get Numbers to draw each year as a connected line.

This year’s chart was put together with R and ggplot2. Here’s what I like about it, and what I don’t.

What I Like

What I Don’t Like

Still, it’s a fun exercise. I certainly learned a lot about R while working on this, and that’ll pay off in the future. Maybe I’ll tackle Boston’s weather data instead.