Spark Lines Without the Spark

Sparklines are one of those great ideas that you just know is “right” the moment you see it. Edward Tufte invented them, and let me tell you, he knows his stuff.

Here's an example: . Want to make some yourself? Check out Joe Gregorio's Sparkline creator.

So what's this rant about? Well given that sparklines are such a great little idea, such a compact, non-intrusive way to present information, you'd imagine it would be hard to get them wrong. And that's exactly what Der Spiegel has managed to do.

Take a look at this article about the current market meltdown. Look at all those lovely sparklines! Each one right beside the market index refered to. Lovely.

Oh wait. They're all the bloody same! Huh? Why go to the bother of inserting a little graphic beside each market index, in the text, and not making it a sparkline? Imagine how much more readable and understandable the text would be if these little graphics were real sparklines! Way to go. What a waste. If I was the online editor of Der Spiegel I would really jump on this and sort it out. What a difference it would make.

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