A minimalist drawing that represents closeness over time.

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This is an unusual thing for me to post, but it sparked a thought process that I wanted to share. One of the forms of data visualization that used to be easy but now is hard is just...sketching. When most of our work was done on paper, sketching was the easiest possible way to illustrate a point using the techniques of data visualization; it was easier to sketch some approximation of a dataset than to faithfully represent the real thing. At this point, that has flipped: casual representations meant to make a point but not exactly represent reality are now significantly harder to make than mapping 1,000 points faithfully in an XY plane.

That's a problem. If you ever read Stratechery, you know just how much value Ben's sketches add to his prose: images are just more information-dense than writing. I use the Paper app on my iPad all the time for this type of work (very much inspired by Ben) but I don't see many others doing this. If you feel like the image above is an effective means of communication, then you probably should bring this visual form back into your repertoire.

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