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.
So here’s how this week was supposed to go. I was going to write about the Northern Irish election Monday and then Tuesday was going to be a piece from the New York Times that looked at the public’s concerns facing an incoming president. This piece I was going to save for later. But then Sunday night North Korea tested several missiles and flew them into the Sea of Japan. Sort of felt appropriate to move this one up a couple of days.
As you know, I like infographics and diagrams about military things. And in an article about the US cyberwar against North Korea, the New York Times included these graphics to provide context about the scale and scope of the North Korean missile programme.
I don’t have the URL for the page on-hand, but if you can find it. The article is well worth the read.
Friday was election day across Northern Ireland as voters elected their representatives for the assembly at Stormont. The headline results: the Nationalists have gained significant ground on the Unionists. The Guardian captured the tallies in this results page.
Credit for the piece goes to the Guardian’s graphics department.
But also, sorry. This piece was supposed to go up Wednesday after President Trump’s speech where he announced he’d like to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. But it didn’t post, so you will get two today.
This article from the New York Times dates from about a week or so ago at the height of the flooding out in California. During that deluge, the Oroville Dam emergency spillway partially failed. And a week prior to that, the Twentyone Mile Dam in Nevada burst.
Dams require investment and maintenance along with roads, railways, airports, and well practically all infrastructure. The article leads in with a map locating all those dam locations across the United States and colour codes them by age.
The article outlines the potential costs and risks associated with all this dam stuff and is worth a quick read. It also includes some nice secondary graphics about the dam hazard potential in Nevada.
Sorry, not sorry.
Credit for the piece goes to Troy Griggs, Gregor Aisch, and Sarah Almukhtar.
We have a scatterplot from the Financial Times that looks at wage and economic growth across the OECD, focusing on the exception that is the United Kingdom. And that is not an exception in the good sense.
The UK had the rare privilege of experiencing economic growth—that’s good—while simultaneously wages fell—that’s bad. But I wanted to comment on the chart today.
Straight off the bat, the salmon-coloured background does not bother me. That is FT’s brand and best to stick to it and make your graphics work around it. Possibly the colours in the plot could use a bit of a push to increase separation, but that is more a design quibble. Instead, I am not too keen on the colour coding here.
Not that the colours need not be applied, but why to the dots? Note how the dots of a colour fall into one of the quadrants. Instead of having people refer to the legend, incorporate the legend into the chart by moving the labels to the plot background. You could colour code the labelling or even colour the quadrants to make it a bit clearer.
Credit for the piece goes to the Financial Times graphics department.
One of the big news stories yesterday centred on the Trump administration’s budget outline that would expand US defence spending by 9%, or $54 billion. That is quite a lot of money. More worrying, however, was the draft’s directive that it be accompanied by equal spending cuts in neither security nor entitlement programmes like Social Security and Medicare. Nor, obviously, the trillions allocated for mandatory spending, e.g. debt repayment.
White House officials—worth noting of the Trump-despised anonymous type that I suppose that only matters if reporting unflattering news—declined to get into specifics, but pointed out foreign aid as an area likely to receive massive cuts.
Problem is, foreign aid is one of the smallest segments of the federal budget. How small? Well, let’s segue into today’s post—see how smooth that was—from the Washington Post. The article dates from October, but was just brought to my attention to one of my mates.
Beyond this graphic that leads the piece, the Post presents numerous cartograms and other graphics that detail spending patterns. Hint, there is a pattern. But those patterns could also make it difficult to slash said spending.
The reason foreign aid spending is important is that it ties nicely into that concept of soft power. No surprise that over 120 retired generals and admirals told Congress that spending on diplomacy and foreign aid is “critical to keeping America safe”.
But for now this remains a budget outline sent to federal agencies to review. The actual budget fight is yet to come. So I’m sure this won’t be the last time we look at this topic here on Coffeespoons.
Credit for the piece goes to Max Bearak and Lazaro Gamio.
Last Friday the Economist published this article about the odds of Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front party, winning the French presidential election in April. You may recall I focused on other things last Friday. So today we have this graphic.
But this morning news broke about new allegations over fraudulent claims by Le Pen and the National Front. This, after claims of fraud against Fançois Fillon and some unhelpful remarks about Algeria from Emmanuel Macron, could be enough to make the French presidential election a complete toss up.
But for now we just wait to see if the rise of populist nationalism continues.
Credit for the piece goes to the Economist’s graphics department.
Labour’s collapse in Copeland in particular is comically bad, but this Friday indulge me in a non-comedic post. Instead, Thursday night we had the results for the by-elections in Stoke and Copeland, two long-held Labour Party constituencies.
Generally speaking in a by-election, the government of the UK can expect to see its vote share decrease if not altogether lose seats. Consequently Labour, as the party of the opposition, should have been expected to hold its two seats and increase its vote share.
Well Labour did win in Stoke, but its majority shrank by half. That’s not so good. And then in Copeland, the bottom sort of fell out. The charts I put together using AP data show what in Copeland was an historic win for the Tories. I could get into the hows and the whys, but you’re best off to go read a British politics site for that. But…something something Corbyn.
What else did you guys think I was going to cover today? The by-elections in Copeland and Stoke? Well, yeah, we’ll likely get back to that tomorrow when we have some results. In the meantime…space!
This is an animation from the New York Times about the Trappist-1 system that has seven Earth-sized planets, a few of which could support liquid water. And since life as we know it depends upon liquid water…well, you get the idea. Go space.
I was having a conversation with a mate the other night about what Brexit means for Scottish independence. This mate, however, is an American. Because when American politics are depressing and nonsensical, we turn to British pol—wait, never mind.
Despite the overall UK vote to leave the European Union, Scotland (and London, and Northern Ireland) voted overwhelmingly to remain. But since part of the whole vote no to independence thing was remaining part of the EU thing, shouldn’t Scotland now be well positioned for IndyRef2?
I read this article from the Guardian back in January and meant to share it with you all, but I somehow forgot about it. So at long last, it turns out no, not so much. The whole thing is worth a read; it uses YouGov survey data to break out voters into different camps. And what sort of nails the argument is this graphic.
There are four/five groups of Brexit/IndyRef1 voters that then get sorted into two/three IndyRef2 results (yes, no, maybe I don’t know?). And what you can see is that yes, a significant number of those who voted to Remain in the EU, but voted no to Scottish independence would now vote for independence. But, an almost equal number of those who voted to Remain and also voted for Scottish independence would now vote against Scottish independence. In effect, these two voter movements are cancelling out any potential gains for a future Scottish independence vote.
Credit for the piece goes to the YouGov graphics department.
I mean, they’re already here…we will return to that shortly.
I hope you enjoyed your three-day weekend, but this is a busy week, folks. Most importantly we have Thursday’s by-elections in Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent, those are in the UK for my American audience, where we will see just how crazy British politics gets post-Brexit referendum.
But today is Tuesday, and in a slight departure from the normal, as a new subscriber to the failing New York Times, I was pleasantly surprised to see this cover waiting for me Sunday.
Quite a nice use of the Russian constructivist language going on. I’m not accustomed to seeing newspaper copy set on an angle.
Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.