write such

instructions from my Self to me on how to write …

write such

write such that it may touch
the hearts of many, much
like it is their own voice.
write such that they rejoice
and feel they have a choice
to live life in the light.
to flow, and not to fight.
write gentle, yet write strong.
write your true inside song.
fly in the sky with wings
that self-expression brings.
fly with exquisite grace
o eagle! and embrace
that all-pervading force.
sing deep –
sing to your source.

Thank you for the ability to read

There have been many many times when I have explicitly (though silently) felt very thankful that I know how to read and write.

There have been many many times when I have explicitly (though silently) felt very thankful to my parents that I know how to read and write. Well let me say it now, before I move ahead –

Mummy, Papa, thank you very very much for providing me a (very) good basic school education. Mummy, thank you for those repeated visits to so many schools, trying to get me admitted mid-term, despite having to listen to the frustrated (almost insulting) responses of many principals. Thank you for the fact that despite the need to have me admitted to a school, you did not compromise on the basic quality, environment and values that the school exhibited via its teachers’ behaviors and other organizational practices. So when I was admitted, you took me out with no hesitation and no delay, when these basic standards were found to be lacking, despite the fact that it just further lengthened my at-home no-school status. Papa, thank you for providing the financial means for the sustained education. And of course, thank you to both of you for all the other regular logistic and every other kind of task that is required to keep the machinery running for the child to go to school everyday. I repeat, I have many many times felt very thankful and grateful that I know how to read and write, and each time, I have felt very thankful to you Mummy and Papa, for that.

And now, thank you to graduate school. For further teaching me how to read. Today I experienced the sublime pleasure of that “more advanced” level of reading. Right through the time while I was reading what I was reading, I was feeling thankful to graduate school. For even while I was enjoying what I was reading, a parallel thought and knowing was that this is being made possible due to having indirectly learned “how to read” in graduate school. A bit during masters and more during the two years of discontinued PhD.

Thank you. With my arms mentally raised to some unknown un-named undetermined force: Thank you for giving me the ability to read.

Browser Market Share

In this article, we see three different approaches to visualizing market share data, using web browser statistics over the last 10+ years. The data is from W3Schools.com based on their log files. Unfortunately, there is no data for the 1990s, the emergence of the Internet. A time very dear, significant and nostalgic for me (as would be for countless others I am sure). Else, you would have also seen the likes of Lynx and Mosaic too. Maybe W3Schools was not around then.Browser Market Share Visualization
Vis 1: Browser Market Share – Streamgraph variant (D3 & Inkscape)

The visualization looks somewhat similar to a bar chart, but is significantly different. Here Time is on the horizontal x-axis, and the varying thickness of the “bars” (or width of the stream) indicate the percentage of market share of each entity.

This is a variant of the Streamgraph / Theme River visualization technique. Normally, in this visualization technique the different entities are stacked over each other. I have deliberately kept them separate, treating each entity as a separate stream. This enables one to see the shifts in market share from one browser to another (highlighted via the blue arrows) more clearly.

Here are some observations from the visualization:

  • Internet Explorer is still around, but steadily loosing ground since the last 9 years.
  • Firefox has also been steadily loosing ground since mid 2009, but not as drastically as IE.
  • And now more than half of the web browsing is done using Chrome.
  • While all this is quite common knowledge, the small but steady user base of Opera for 10 years despite Chrome, is fascinating. (aside: My nephew is one of those loyal 1.6%.)
  • The distinct shift of market share from Netscape to Mozilla to Firefox is apparent. It is essentially about the same code base being made available in a new name. Here is the history of those early years.

More conventionally, this data could also have been visualized as a line chart.
Vis 2: Browser Market Share – Line Chart (Excel).

Here too the very complimentary rise and fall of IE vs Firefox and then the rise of Chrome vs the fall of Firefox (and IE) is clear. If you look carefully, the distinct shift of market shares in 2004 from Mozilla to Firefox is also apparent (highlighted via the red circle).

However, as is often the case with linear scales and considerable disparity in data, the smaller values are all pushed down and become unclear. Even otherwise, the individual trajectories of each entity is not as clear as Vis 1. The steady presence of Opera; the default Mac browser Safari; the change of hands between Netscape, AOL and Mozilla are not directly apparent, or even when Chrome came into the picture.

Considering that this is market share in percentages where all values add up to 100, a Stacked Area Chart nicely shows the part-whole relationship.
Browser Market Share - Stacked Area Chart
Vis 3: Browser Market Share – Stacked Graph (Tableau). Click image for interactive Tableau version.

The ordering of the entities on the stack is crucial. It significantly determines the inferences and impressions drawn from a Stacked Area Chart. The layout on the left is what the software created first by itself. The short-lived AOL is by itself on top. The tapering of IE is clear but even though Chrome is gaining space, it gives an impression as if it is declining because its border line (with green Firefox) is declining.

In the layout on the right, the entities are ordered in the same order as in Vis 1. Now the rise of Chrome is unambiguous. Also, the way Firefox takes off from Mozilla’s (purple) market share is clear. This was not apparent in the ordering on the left because Mozilla and Firefox were disconnected, one at the top of the stack, one at the bottom.

The small players do not get obliterated here as in a line chart. This seems to be a better option for analysis as the market share is clearly mapped to the scale. In contrast, in Vis 1 (the Streamgraph variant) the scale of 0-100% is not clear. In fact, in the Streamgraph variant where each entity is an independent stream, there is a band of 0-100% range for each entity – the maximum width any of the players can attain.

However, for telling the story of the evolution of browsers’ market share, Vis 1 seems more appropriate. The individual trajectories are clear. One can show the stream flow animated over time and introduce the relevant explanatory arrows and annotations in due course at appropriate junctures of the historical narrative. The metaphor of market share clout as a swelling or trickling stream is poetic. Animated Stacked chart emerging from left to right over time does not seem as intuitive.

What are your thoughts on the pros, cons, preferences of the options presented? What other appropriate ways of visualizing this data would you suggest?

Other related visualizations:

This visualization by Michael VanDaniker is very beautiful. However, by the author’s own admission it does not deliver much functional value. It was made primarily to demonstrate the use of the open source data visualization framework: Axiis. Click on the image for the full-interactive version. It is very nice.

This one is somewhat funky. It delivers almost 0 functional value, other than the small bar chart on the top left. The position of the browser-planets or the why the countries lie on an inner or outer orbit, seems totally arbitrary.