Here’s another effort to use sparklines to try to illustrate some of the trends I wrote about in today’s Asian Wall Street Journal/WSJ.com column (subscription only; apologies). I’ve used another excellent tool called SparkMaker, a Word plugin by Bissantz to try to show how the mainstream print media has covered some technology issues since the early 1980s (these charts cover 1984–2004 because the numbers prior to then are too small to be useful.) I’d be grateful for any thoughts you may have, on either the sparklines or what the data may say to you. Of course, it might say nothing at all….
Here’s the first one: media mentions of certain terms in order of the year the term was most often used (they’re done as screenshots, apologies for the low quality):
‘Information superhighway’ as a term reached a peak in its first big year of usage, and then fell off rapidly. Electronic mail wasn’t ever as popular and is still in use (who still says that rather than e-mail?) Cyberspace had its heyday in 2000, as did MP3, surprisingly. Notice how SMS never really got that much coverage, I guess perhaps because Factiva is so slanted towards North America. Spam is a big topic, as is VoIP. The bars are too small to show it but Blogging has been covered since the early 1990s, albeit in small numbers. Wi-Fi and RFID, too, are now major topics. Bluetooth has never quite captured the same attention.
Here’s another way of looking at the same data, sorted by the largest total coverage in a single year:
Allowing for distortions caused by the growth of media outlets, VoIP has in one year outdone all others. Wi-Fi too, seems to be catching attention.
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I find it confusing to have the various dates at the end of the line. I’m assuming that all the graphs cover the same period but the date implies that the end of the line represents that date.
A suggestion would be to use color to highlight the bar that the peak year represents as well as the year number and the peak value.