Link to → Timeplots posters My firm, Graphicacy, creates a line of large-format, elaborate information art posters called Timeplots. With designer Youyou Zhou, I visualized the history of Major League Baseball. This poster has not yet been completed, though I have been returning to it and intend to update the content and complete the design. I’m also interested in creating spinoff posters or small books—such as all-time team rivalries. In particular, I’m interested in also studying the incomplete records from Negro League Baseball, and making a project about this important and too-often overlooked topic.
- Complete this poster!
- Update the poster with Negro Leagues records...
- Or make a similar poster dedicated to the Negro Leagues.
- Write a reflective essay, based on the experience. Recently, Major League Baseball decided to fold statistics from the Negro Leagues (1920—1948) into their records. This decision recognizes the achievements of Black baseball players during segregation in the United States. It also rewrites significant baseball records, for teams and individuals. At the same time, the Negro Leagues presents stories about data collection and bias that anyone who works with data must confront. In this case study, I’ll share a work-in-progress poster that visualizes Major League Baseball History, which I’ve worked on as part of Graphicacy, a data design firm in Washington, DC. This poster (presented on the following page) includes visualizations of all the teams in Major League Baseball history. We also show top Hall of Fame batters, pitchers, and vital statistics.
- Research questions include: What would this poster look like by integrating Negro League players? What would a similar poster look like for the Negro Leagues? What takeaway lessons can we learn about data collection and bias from what’s not possible to visualize? Through specific stories and examples, I’ll illustrate why data designers need to keep context and bias in mind. These factors lead us to search for what’s missing when creating data visualizations that attempt to portray records and legacies.
- Discuss how by thinking of records, we can sanitize and abstract real stories and pain points in our society—as illustrated by the Negro Leagues data collection challenges.
Art Direction, Data Visualization, Graphic Design & Illustration.
This poster, like the ones we’ve designed in our Timeplots series, invites multiple readings. We attempt to create an information-rich reading landscape that questions poster conventions by allowing for complexity in presentation and reading.
The goal of design, to paraphrase John Maeda and Don Norman, is not simplicity but clarity because reality is complex. The introduction of Negro Leagues records to this conversation creates another layer of complexity and richness that we need to discuss and share.
The methods employed by the design team at Graphicacy include collecting data from Baseball Reference.com and curating these records to find meaningful visual displays of individual and team records. We use charting conventions that include sparklines, first described by Edward Tufte.
This project involved extensive data sketching. Because the baseball season is so long, most teams hover around the .500 mark. Rank is ultimately what fans care about. For example: Who finished first? This is why my new idea for a ‘bump chart’ that focuses on rank should fix the difficult-to-read central graphic.