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.
Last week, the New York Times looked at the growing education gap amongst this country’s largest metropolitan areas. The infographic, click the image below to go to the full version, is perhaps a bit more layered, nuanced, and complex than it looks at first. In about forty years, the number of adults with college degrees has doubled, good, but so too has the spread of those numbers across the set of cities, bad. And then to look at any geographic spread, the two datasets are mapped geospatially. By my eye, the Northeast and Pacific Northwest seem to be doing fairly well. Not so much around the rest of the country.
Canada is getting old. At least so the Canadian census data says. As a percentage of the population, the map made by the National Post below looks at where the old people are. Within reason, one would expect to perhaps see a more even distribution across all of Canada. However, it appears that the northern territories and provinces have fewer old people than their southern counterparts.
Credit for the piece goes to Andrew Barr, Jonathon Rivait, and Richard Johnson.
A few days ago the Golden Gate Bridge turned 75. I had been hoping to see an interesting infographic or two about the bridge and its history appear. Alas, none worthy of posting have made their way to my digital desk. So instead I am stepping into the time machine, really just a cardboard box with some drawn-on dials, and pulling out this piece from the San Francisco Chronicle.
It looks at suicides from the bridge by location over its history—up until the graphic was made obviously. I’ve linked to a larger version of the graphic rather than the Chronicle’s site, because their graphic is shrunk too small to be legible.
I generally refrain from posting links to my professional work. Normally because I’d have to be the first to criticise it and tear it apart. But also because a lot of it is confidential and behind the paywall—it’s like the Iron Curtain meets the Great Wall but really a lot less interesting.
Yet from time to time, through the work and deeds of others, things escape and make it into the wild. Then things are fair game. This is one of those times and one of those pieces. The image links to the third-party page.
This falls under the just-because-it’s-about-geographies-doesn’t-mean-it-should-necessarily-be-visualised-as-a-map category. The Guardian has taken data from the African Economic Outlook, specifically real GDP growth rates, and charted them as a map. This caught my interest initially because of some work I have been doing that required me to read a report on African economic development in coming years. So I figured this could be interesting.
But it’s a map. That’s not to say there is anything inherently wrong about the map. Though the arrangement of the legend and size of each ‘bin’ of percentage values is a bit odd. I would have placed the positive at the top of the list and tried to provide an equal distribution of the data, e.g. 3–10 for both positive and negative values. But, without looking in any depth at the data, the designer may have had valid reasons for such a distribution.
That said, two finer points stick out to me. The first is Western Sahara. Long story short, it is a disputed territory claimed by different factions. I am not accustomed to ever seeing any real economic data coming out of there. But, according to the map, its growth is 0–3%. When one looks at the data, however, one finds that as I would have expected the data says “no data”. Ergo the green colour on the map is misleading. Not necessarily incorrect, for the growth could have been between those two points, but without any data one cannot say for sure.
The second concern for me is South Sudan—remember that story? For starters one cannot find it on the map; South Sudanese territory is depicted as part of Sudan. While South Sudan is one of the poorest countries on the earth, its split from Sudan is rather important. Looking at the data, one can see Sudan’s growth went from 8 to 4.5 to 5 to 2.8. Why the sudden drop? Probably because Sudan’s economic boom has largely been built on the boom in oil prices over the past decade or so. But, most of that oil is no longer in Sudan, Not because its been pumped dry, but rather most of the oil fields can now be found in South Sudan.
These are some of the contextual stories that make sense of a data set. But these are the stories lost in a simple, interactive map.
The Eurozone. Greece. What a complete mess. And that’s just what has happened. What about what’s next?
If you are confused about how the debt crisis in Greece and the Eurozone will unfold, you are not alone. Thankfully, the Guardian has posted an infographic, more precisely an interactive flowchart, to help us sort out the mess. Now you get to choose your own adventure for Greece and the Eurozone.
Credit goes to Paddy Allen for posting, but it appears as if Lombard Street Research deserves the credit for the piece. But I might be mistaken.
Have you ever wondered if you’re working too much? Thanks to an interactive infographic from the BBC, now you can see whether or not you are. At least in comparison to the rest of the OECD. The user enters an average number of hours worked per week and then their total number of holidays (including public holidays) and see a comparison of their hours spent worked against those of OECD member countries.
The Globe and Mail has been working on a story about immigration to Canada because apparently not all immigrants come to America. The story has its section headers running down the side column of the page, like many other segmented stories you’ll see posted online these days, but also uses graphics to make and supplement its arguments.
This one chart from the piece is an example of how the simple format of a line chart can clearly express and visualise an interesting trend. Immigrants from the past two decades earn less than immigrants to Canada in the 1970s. Those from the early 90s, however, do appear to have a faster rate of income growth that approaches parity with Canadian-born income-earners.