What’s so special about this?
Now you may ask: “What’s so special about this?” Well, the theory supports that like regular dominoes, these dominoes could keep pushing the next ones down. Even the small, 2in domino can bring down the tallest of dominoes. You keep going on and,
- with the 15th domino you will reach the height of one of the tallest dinosaurs, Argentinosaurus (16m tall)
- with the 18th domino you will reach at the top of the statue of liberty (46m)
- with the 40th domino you be in the space station (370km)
- and by 57th, you will reach the moon (370,000km)
People use the expression “reach for the moon” meaning try to achieve very difficult tasks, in almost a defeating tone; however, this example empowers us to think that it IS indeed possible for a small domino to build up to reach the moon.
It might be easy for some people to sustain with whatever current knowledge they have, but we know that in the knowledge economy we must continuously improve and learn. I heard this recently from Mike Rayburn: “coasting only happens downhill.” Although it is easy to coast at a job, it will only bring us down. Another difficult, but invigorating approach is to become a “virtuoso“: mastery in the chosen field.
a person who has a masterly or dazzling skill or technique in any field of activity
Reaching for the moon is of course extremely difficult and improbable for most of us, but the metaphor is powerful. We start with one step small step, we repeat that step with increased intensity and momentum, and we can achieve our goals. With focus, efforts and momentum, it is possible to achieve even the most improbable goals. Find your one thing that will make you successful and repeat it everyday in increasing order.
Recipe for Infographics in R
It was hardly obvious to me that inforgraphics in statistics are called pictograms. Remember this when you search for information on infographics in R
Edward Tufte, in his book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, famously described how graphic designers (or let’s say data communicators) “lie” with data, especially when the objects they plot are hardly in true proportions. My challenge was thus to avoid lying and still communicate the message.
Now to the fun part! Getting our hands dirty in
when not pulling our hair dealing with
Step 1:Load my favorite libraries
Step 2: Generate data and the base plot
The argument plot.margin. I increased the height of the plot by supplying the parameter unit(c(1,1,18,1), "lines")
We get this plot:
Step 3: Read all the vector arts in a Grob form
Step 4: Line up the images without lying
From step 4, we get this:
Shucks! All this for this boring looking graph. Not lying is not fun. Although the Argentinosaurus, statue of liberty, and Eiffel Tower all are proportionate to their heights, the plot lacks appeal. I thought the next best thing would be to place all the objects close to their values on the x-axis. Another benefit of this approach: I added some other objects that have very small and big y-axis values i.e. a domino, the space station and our moon.
Step 5: Place more images using a custom function
Step 6: Add text labels
Step 7: Put everything together
This is what we get. Not bad, huh?
We still have a problem: our beloved moon is smaller than the space station, because I placed all the images in rectangles of same height. I could have made the moon slightly bigger, but I could not have maintained the proportion. I thought it is better to have all the objects in similar size rectangles than changing proportions at will. If you have other ideas, please let me know.
Step 7: Make it pretty
And by pretty, I mean, upload the final plot to Canva and add the orange color. 🙂 Here is my final version:
There it is! It is possible to use
to create infographics or pictograms, and the obvious advantage, as I explained my post Tableau vs. R, is a programming language’s repeatability and reproducibility. You can, of course, edit the output plots in Illustrator or GIMP, but for quick wins, R’s output is fantastic. Can you think of any other ideas to create infographics in R?
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