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Data at Work: Best practices for creating effective charts and information graphics in Microsoft® Excel® by Jorge Camões

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11. Change Over Time

Tobler’s first law of geography (“Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things”) could be applied to both space and time. For many variables, variation from one time period to the next tends to follow a reasonably smooth path. Any abrupt changes draw our attention and must be investigated.

It’s perfectly acceptable to focus our attention on describing the now, but in most cases a larger time frame helps us understand where we are, why we are here, and where we should expect to go. But the importance of time also depends on the complexity of our economic or social systems (more, and more vocal, social minorities make societies more complex). Today, many variables vary more ...

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