Movies for a pandemic

February 2020

I posted this on the r/dataisbeautiful subreddit and it went a little crazy. It's topical, yes - but it's also an illustration of implicit vs. explicit data viz.

Pandemic movies we are watching again

The visualisation is called a bump chart and it plots film search data from Google Trends since the coronavirus struck.

Note it has no Y-axis and no hard numbers. Instead it uses simple form and pattern to reveal insight.

Very simply, it tells a story.

(One guy in China replied with a list of all the pandemic and apocalyptic films he's watched since being in self-quarantine. There's so many I'd missed! But it confirmed the instinct to watch scary movies in scary times.)

Be wary of the pursuit for "hard numbers". Often they hide truth by hiding pattern.

Implicit viz is a really useful tool in the BI practitioner's arsenal.

It signposts the real narrative.

Making this visualisation

Data source: Google Trends. Note I used search data by film topic, not just keyword searches.

Google Trends limits you to comparing five search topics at a time. A good tip for building up more data (in my case multiple films) is to do sets of comparisons, and ensure a certain topic is common to each comparison.

This acts as a baseline for your data. (In my case I included World War Z in every comparison, plus four additional movie titles.)

Tools: Rawgraphs.io and Adobe Photoshop