An Admin's Guide to Data Visualization

Friday, December 9, 2016 - 2:00pm2:45pm

Caskey L. Dickson, Microsoft Corporation


Go beyond the line and bar chart. Come learn the essentials of presenting complex numerical data in a meaningful and actionable manner. Don't just toss up a table of unintelligible numbers. Use that information to tell a story and do it in a way that is compelling, not confusing. Learn the techniques and pitfalls to convey real meaning with your valuable data.

This talk will cover the basics of data presentation including common techniques and pitfalls. The goal is to move people beyond the wall of numbers and enable coherent visualization of large data sets.

If you’ve ever been in a presentation where a wall of numbers is thrown up, leaving it up to you to find the meanings and trends, then this talk will show you how to convert that data into a story. Commonly used graph types will be covered as well as discussion as to when and how each type is most appropriately used. Examples will be provided of both good and bad cases of data presentation, and attendees will come away with both and understanding of how to present data effectively as well as the psychology of how people interpret visual data.

Topics covered will include

  • Bertin Efficiency
  • Why pie charts should die
  • Common graphs (line, bar, scatter)
  • Advanced graphs (box plots, cycle plots, trellises, and nightingales)
  • Binning (hexagonal, rectangular, etc.)
  • Aspect ratios and “banking to the 45”
  • Scales and axes

Caskey L. Dickson, Microsoft Corporation

Caskey L. Dickson is a Site Reliability Engineer at Microsoft where he is part of the leadership team reinventing operations at Azure. Before that he was at Google where he worked as an SRE/SWE writing and maintaining monitoring services that operate at "Google scale" as well as business intelligence pipelines. He has worked in online services since 1995 when he turned up his first web server and has been online ever since. Before working at Google, he was a senior developer at Symantec, wrote software for various Internet startups such as CitySearch and CarsDirect, ran a consulting company, and even taught undergraduate and graduate computer science at Loyola Marymount University. He has a B.S. in Computer Science, a Masters in Systems Engineering, and an M.B.A from Loyola Marymount.

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@conference {201582,
author = {Caskey L. Dickson},
title = {An Admin{\textquoteright}s Guide to Data Visualization},
year = {2016},
address = {Boston, MA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = dec

Presentation Video 

Presentation Audio