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.
Battleships are cool. Pointless in the 21st century, but they’re still cool. And now the USS Iowa is open as a museum in Los Angeles. Around the opening of the museum earlier this month, the LA Times put together a few graphics that were collected in one infographic piece that illustrated some of those parts of the ship open to the public. But what’s cooler than the guns that fire shells as big as trees (wrong ship in the song, but the point stands).
Credit for the piece goes to Tom Reinken, Raoul Ranoa, and Anthony Pesce.
Census data fascinates me from a data visualisation perspective; one can look at it so many different ways. Last week I looked at some of the Slovakian census data on the Carpatho-Rusyns that live in the northeastern mountains of Slovakia. But yesterday, the British Office of National Statistics released the results from their census of England and Wales (Scotland reports later and Northern Ireland did so already, yay devolution.) One of the big news stories was that England and Wales had 500,000 more people than had been expected. That doesn’t sound like a lot of people, but to put it roughly into American proportions, that would be like finding that there was a whole new city the size of Chicago somewhere in the United States.
But while many organisations and individuals will certainly be looking at the census data in the coming days, weeks, and months, the ONS released its own interactive application. Basically it looks at the population pyramid for England and Wales from 1911 to 2011, a century’s worth of data. But what makes this different from the GE population pyramids, for example, is the context that the ONS has added that strict data pulls lack.
Here in 1921, rolling over a particular cohort reveals the details of those aged 30 in 1921. There is a clear difference between the number of men and women. But why? The text block’s first note details how 700,000 men aged 20–40 died during World War I and thus altered the basic structure of the English and Welsh population.
And in 1951 we begin to look at the British baby boom in the post-war era. Again, while the Baby Boom might be expected, the ONS also points out that the NHS, the British National Health Service, had also recently started and was positively affecting life expectancy and the general health of the British public. These are again things that would not likely appear in more data-focused pieces.
But everybody loves to compare things to other things. So, the ONS also released a more data-focused application that allows the user to select two different census geographies and compare them. This is more as one would expect, comparing overlays vs. side-by-side looks at different population pyramids. The example below compares London to Birmingham.
Credit for the pieces go to the ONS Visualisation Centre.
The BBC is letting you see how fat you are. They take inputs of age, weight, gender, and then your country of residence to compute your BMI and compare that across multiple countries for which the data exists. It compares you to your national average and then provides a country whose average best fits your BMI.
My 300lb., 6’0″ avatar is apparently overweight. And most like someone from Micronesia.
The Slovakian government has published the results from its 2011 census. The census looked at many things, including nationality and language. This should allow the government in Bratislava to better fund and support the ethnic minorities in Slovakia.
Of course, some of my ancestors were one of the small ethnic minorities in Slovakia. Ergo, I have a personal interest in the data. The result is a quick infographic about the Carpatho-Rusyns of Slovakia. Click on the cropping below to learn more, meaning, see a bigger and fuller version.
Credit for the work goes to me. For the data, the statistics office of Slovakia.
After an odd two short weeks—imagine two weeks with each only having a Monday and a Friday—we (in the royal sense of I) are back to the routine. So what better way than to look at American awesomeness in blowing things up. Through air strikes launched from US aircraft carriers.
This graphic comes from the New York Times and looks at the changed nature of air warfare in Afghanistan. No longer are US fighters dropping bombs all over the place—during the early days of the war, aircraft would take off laden with so many bombs that they needed to drop some before returning to the carrier—instead they use cannon fire and use it far more sparingly.
Last week Mitt Romney’s campaign released a series of infographic adverts. They were Venn Diagrams with messages attacking President Obama by highlighting what the Romney campaign called gaps between what the president has said he would do and what he has in fact done.
The problem with these is that they are all wrong. Do not misunderstand me, the Romney campaign certainly has valid points in these statements. And to use an infographic to communicate their points is a valid approach. But whoever designed these adverts clearly did not know how a Venn Diagram works.
Here is a brief refresher course for those interested.
Unfortunately, the Romney campaign’s message is being lost in a failed medium. It’s like watching a clown give a doctoral thesis in rocket science. He sure might be making a good point. But it’s a clown. People laugh at clowns. People won’t take the clown seriously. The Romney campaign is making good points, but that message is being lost because the campaign cannot master one of the simplest types of charts.
Credit for the originals go to the Romney campaign. The bit on How Venn Diagrams Work is mine.
CERN may—or may not—have discovered a particle that may—or may not—be the Higgs Boson that would probably fill in a lot of the holes in our understanding of how the world may work at a sub-atomic level. That is a lot of ‘may’s.
Understanding just what a Higgs Boson does is not quite so easy. In really simplified language, it explains why things have mass. And when you put things of mass on a planet that has gravity, like Earth, why things have weight. Back in the early 1990s, the British minister for science offered a prize for the best explanation to be given in layman’s terms. The following image, via the BBC, is one part of that example. We all probably need to know it just a little more today.
The National Post’s business section, branded separately as the Financial Post, posted a comment about a proposed bridge that would span the Detroit River and add a third major crossing to the Detroit–Windsor area. The comment used a graphic to explain one of the key points of the story, that early 21st century traffic projections haven proven to be very much incorrect. Unfortunately, it took me a little bit of time to realise that in the graphic.
So without access to the raw data provided by United Research Services I have made a quick attempt to improve the graphic within the confines of Coffee Spoons’ main column space, i.e. 600 pixels. The original locator map is quite useful and therefore not included in my effort.
My main issues with the charts are the separation of the estimates from the actuals and the spacing between the estimates. I would have preferred to have seen, as in my example, how the actuals for 2010 fell far short of the 2004 projections. Ideally, I would have liked to have seen the original estimates for the intervening years between 2010, ’20, and ’30, however that data was not provided in the comment if it is even available from the original source. Consequently, unlike the original, I have kept the spacing of the actual data in the estimates with the intervening gaps.
The subtle effect of this increased spacing is to reduce the visual speed, if one will, of the projected growth. Over the original and narrower space the rate of increase appears fairly dramatic. However when given the correct spacing the ‘time’ to reach the projections lengthens and thus the rate ‘slows down’.
Credit for the original piece goes to Richard Johnson. The reinterpretation and any errors therein are entirely my own.