Mapping The Oblique Strategies

While trying to find an Oblique Strategies widget for WordPress (hint: there isn’t one), I had occasion to revisit Gregory Taylor’s very useful website about the cards. While there, I noticed a feature of the website that I hadn’t noticed before.

There is a table that lets you browse the various editions of the Strategies and see which cards have been added, modified or removed over time and across editions. There are two separate pages: a description of the table, and the table itself. It is interesting to review the data and see how the Strategies as a set have changed over time.

This is an interesting way to browse this data (but it is itching for a Web 2.0 update such that it would not require browsing to separate pages in order to drill down into the data). That said, the summary form of the table is quite useful since giving the contents of all 150 cards in the same view would make for an unmanageably large graphic.

Here’s the overview table (a simple screenshot from Taylor’s site):
Oblique Strategies Timeline
(Click the image to see full size.)

However, in Edward Tufte fashion, I can’t help but suggest some tweaks to the graph. Specifically, each axis could be used to convey additional data:

  • The horizontal axis currently treats each Edition with equal weight. Adjusting the width of each column could convey the passage of time and the gaps between editions.
  • The vertical axis currently groups the cards according to what happened to them (added, removed, modified, etc.) but doesn’t show the relative sizes of each grouping. Each row may represent anywhere from 1 to 39 cards. This makes it challenging to see whether more cards are changing over time or remaining the same.

And so, just for my own interest, I mocked up the following graphic. It’s the same data as shown on Taylor’s site, laid out in the same way. The difference is that I adjusted each axis according to the criteria outlined above. In this graphic, one can quickly see the length of time between editions as well as the percentage of cards that changed in any edition (I marked a 50-card block for scale reference).

Oblique Strategies Timeline
(Click the image to see full size.) (Original image/data is here.)

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