I am a graphic designer who focuses on information design. My day job? I am the data visualisation manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. (This blog is my something I do on my own time and does not represent the views of the Fed, blah blah blah legal stuff.) And with my main interest in information design—be it in the shape of clear charts, maps, diagrams, or wayfinding systems—I am fortunate that my day job focuses on data visualisation. Outside of work, I try to stay busy with personal design work. Away from the world of design, I enjoy cooking and reading and am interested in various subjects from history and geography to politics to science to the arts. And I allow all of them to influence my work.
If you have not heard, the entire continental United States will, weather cooperating, be able to see at least a partial solar eclipse on Monday, 21 August. It is still too far away for an accurate weather forecast, but I am hoping that we have good weather in Philadelphia that day. Or else why bother working from home that day?
In the meantime, enjoy this eclipse-related piece from xkcd that ties together my love for astronomy things with my love for political things.
Today’s post is not a particular great graphic in that it is far from revolutionary. Instead, you could say it far more evolutionary. A new finding by Matthew Baron posits a rather unusual dinosaur named Chilesaurus, discovered in Chile as its name suggests, is actually a cousin to both the tyrannosaurs and raptors as well as to triceratops. (Get the joke now?)
After I read the story I had to dig around for a graphic that made more sense than this BBC graphic. Why? Well, the way the article was written, it read more that the Chilesaurus actually falls after the theropods, but before the ornithischians as a cousin-like species. This BBC graphic makes it appear as a third sibling.
So in the Daily Mail, we have this graphic, credit given to Matthew Baron, that shows how the theropods branched out, but that Chilesaurus branched out after them and yet still provided ancestral traits to the ornithischians.
As both articles point out, this is not settled science and many disagree with the new arrangement. But as a person who grew up fascinated by dinosaurs, these kinds of stories are just fantastic.
Another week, another batch of news and posturing from North Korea. So I was delighted to see last week a post from Politico exploring the history of the North Korean missile programme with data visualisation.
This kind of maps are my favourite for these types of stories. So often people get locked into this idea of a Mercator or Robinson projection and lines moving right/left or east/west on a map. Instead the world is a globe and the missiles or airplanes or birds or whatever will fly in circles over the poles if it’s easier.
Credit for the piece goes to the Politico graphics department.
We have a nice little piece from the Economist today, a look at the electoral majority for London-area constituencies and how their housing prices may begin to draw out priced-out Labour votes from London proper.
What I really like from the design side is the flip of the traditional choropleth density. In other words, we normally see the dark, rich colours representing high percentages. But here, those high majority constituencies are not the ones of focus, so they get the lighest of colours. Instead, the designers point attention to those slimmest of majorities and then offer the context of average home prices.
Credit for the piece goes to the Economist’s Data Team.
Kenya presently waits for the results of its presidential election, one that pitted incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta against Raila Odinga, a many ran but never won candidate. Now, if you will indulge me, the Kenyan elections have interested me since December 2007, which if you recall provoked sectarian violence to break out across the country.
At the time I had just started working at my undergraduate thesis, a book using Fareed Zakaria’s Future of Freedom as the text (with a parallel narrative from Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart) and I wanted to use specific case studies and data to add to the point of the book. Kenya with its election result data and horrific outcome allowed me to do just that. I juxtaposed awful images of that violence with quiet text and a full-page graphic of the results. I still find it one of the stronger spreads in the book, but as we await the results in Kenya, I am hoping that a ten-year anniversary piece will not be required.
And yes, I have learned a lot since 2007. Including my deep-seated antipathy for pie charts.
Credit for the piece goes to a much less knowledgable me.
This past weekend I was reading an article in the New York Times about how a diary from the 19th century may indicate a plot in Gowanus Brooklyn destined for development may contain an old slave burial ground. You may recall how this author’s hobbies include genealogy and family history—how I would love to find a 19th century diary. Then, given this interest and the article, it was fantastic to find a map in the article.
Suffice it to say the map held my fascination for long enough that I saved the paper to post about it today. I was curious about two things, however, one, did the graphic have a credited author—it did not in the print edition—and two, was there a neat interactive version in the online version? The online version is simply a colour version of the map.
But the colour version does one thing that really helps make the graphic complete. In the print edition, there is no clear idea what the different layers are and it did take me a moment or two to understand the overlay. But the online version calls out specifically the map of the area from two different time periods.
Maps like these are my favourite. They blend history and the present. After all the places we live have often been lived in for centuries and they bear the marks of that inhabitance.
As to the first question, credit for the piece goes to Joe Burgess.
About two weeks ago, Michael Phelps raced a shark. What will they not do for television ratings? The Economist took the basic premise and then had an insightful piece about the speed of animals compared to their size. The whole notion of animals get faster the larger they get. Well, to a point, the Economist found. The graphic is a bit complex, perhaps, in their use of a log scale on both the x and y axes. But they have cute little illustrations of everyone’s favourite animals. So it all balances out in the end.
But there is real science in the piece and it is worth a quick read.
Credit for the piece goes to the Economist graphics department.
We made it to Friday, folks. So here in Philly it is, of course, hot and disgusting. (Please refer to Tuesday’s post about the increasingly hot weather in summers.) Thankfully we have ThisIsIndexed to explain what happens in hot weather.
Initially I was not going to post this work, if only because other things came up and I do have to prioritise what I post on my site. It had nothing to do with the work’s quality, which I think is actually quite good. What am I talking about? Well today’s piece is from a Pro Public article about the impact of immigration on economic growth. And it turns out the two are linked. Why? Well, the overly simplistic explanation is that we will need immigrants to pick up the slack in the labour force that will otherwise begin shrinking in years to come.
But why take my word for it when you can take charts’ word for it. The piece does a great job of showing how changes in immigration numbers can help grow or shrink economic growth. And if you recall, President Trump has promised growth rates of 4%. But, and this is why I decided to post this, yesterday it was announced that Trump will support legislation intending to halve immigration to the United States over the next ten years. As my screenshot captured, a reduction in immigration will actually lead to lower economic growth and put us further away from the 4% rate.