Like Randomprocess and Jivlain, I also wasn’t much enamored with the FWA site’s use of links trying to open in pop-up windows. It looks nice, but, because of it’s interface, I stopped trying to view their linked web-sites after a few minutes. A counter-productive use of a visualization method.
Like Dan, I had problems with the “lots-of-overlapping-colored-circles” model. There are all kinds of design elements in there that don’t have obvious meanings – they just confuse whatever the data is trying to say. I assume there’s supposed to be some kind of key explaining what these elements are, but they left it out of the web pictures.
And, one more shot at the periodic table thing: forget THE Periodic Table (capital THE, P, and T). Why would a person use a periodic table (generic, non-capital) as a graphical metaphor to visualize non-periodic data? Or, back to THE Periodic Table, that’s sort of like producing a big, complex class with all kinds of fancy exposed methods and then using it to store plain, vanilla integer data that doesn’t use any of those methods. Or, it could be like taking two integers, casting them both to float, dividing them, and casting them back to integer. There’s no point to it, takes up space and time, and makes development and maintenance difficult. Or, how about writing a big, complex, O(1) sorting method instead of using a small, simple O(log n) method when there are only 10 pieces of data to sort? Overall, I’d say that chart, and perhaps the overlapping-circles one, too, is nothing but a good example of a Duck (p 116 of my copy of Tuft’s “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information”):
“When a graphic is taken over by decorative forms or computer debris, when the data measures and structures become Design Elements, when the overall design purveys Graphical Style rather than quantitative information, then that graphic may be called a duck in honor of the duck-form store, “Big Duck.””