The New American Center

NBC News and Esquire magazine published results from their August survey of some 2000+ respondents that attempted to define the New American Center, i.e. the political persuasions of the majority of the country excepting the radical right and the loony left. For the purposes of Coffee Spoons, I am most interested in looking at the data visualisation and the infographics that result.

Both NBC News and Esquire visualised the results. While I could write two long blog posts looking at both of them, for today, it is more important to look more at the fundamental design difference between the two.

NBC News opted for a design direction emphasising data first. Perhaps because NBC is a news platform, their focus was on the clean communication of the data. Looking

NBC News results
NBC News results

On the other hand, Esquire opted for a more sensationalised direction. The same data points used for the screenshot above creates this graphic below. Not only is less data is contained, less context given, less subtlety and nuance captured, it also is just difficult to read. Is the 59% supposed to be the area of the cross filled in? Its length? Why is it three-dimensional? Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear? At first glance, I ignore the horizontal wings and focus solely on the vertical length of the main bar.

Esquire results
Esquire results

For a useful representation of data, I think NBC News clearly wins. But that both organisations used the same data to craft their separate results, this story on the New American Center is useful for comparing two different design directions and the results thereof.

No designers are specifically mentioned, at least not that I could find, so credit for each piece goes to its respective owner, i.e. NBC News or Esquire.

Corporate Taxes

Corporate taxes are always a fun discussion point. Who pays too much? Too little? Not at all? In May, the New York Times published an interactive piece examining US companies and their effective tax rates from 2007 through 2012.

At its core, the piece is a bubble chart along one axis that plots the tax rate for the company, with the bubble sized proportionally to said company’s market capitalisation. Colours reinforce the tax rate plotting, but are not themselves necessary. I think they would have been better tied to something along the lines of industries or profit or sales growth.

Overall corporate tax rates
Overall corporate tax rates

Of course that was when I saw the button for viewing the data by industry. The view of all companies is broken up into a series of charts about each particular industry. And of course, if you want information on a particular company, the smart search/filter is particularly useful.

Corporate tax rates by industry
Corporate tax rates by industry

Credit for the piece goes to Mike Bostock, Matthew Ericson, David Leonhardt, and Bill Marsh.

Who Has Your Photograph

Privacy is the hot topic these days. And in this interactive piece from the Washington Post, we can see which state and federal agencies may have your photograph to run face recognition software without your arrest. The bubble chart, which is broken into four different levels of search permissions, maps out how many photographs are stored. Beyond that, however, the piece personalises the story by asking you a few simple questions to reveal just who may very well have your face. Below is where my ugly mug is stored.

My photograph can likely be found in red.
My photograph can likely be found in red.

Credit for the piece goes to Darla Cameron and Craig Timberg.

New Data Visualisation Forms

Monday was an odd day, both 1 April and the start of baseball. I had a tough decision to make: Do I post a serious baseball-related piece or a humourous April Fool’s Day one instead? If you recall, I went for the serious baseball option. But that leaves me with Friday, where I try to post work that is a bit on the lighter side of life.

So here is EagerPies, published by EagerEyes on 1 April. It’s in the style of the EagerEyes site, a blog with posts about data visualisation. This selection is EagerPies work to improve upon Minard and the layering of data sets. But if you worry about complexity, fret not for they realised that encoding data in transparency would be a step too far.

Stacked scatter column pies
Stacked scatter column pies

Credit for the piece goes to EagerPies.

Canadian Debt

Canada, along with Australia, was one of the few Western, industrialised economies to weather the global recession of 2008 fairly well. However in recent years, despite the economic boom in the energy-rich western provinces, many of Canada’s provinces have been accumulating substantial—though not yet crippling—levels of debt. Toronto’s National Post explores the federal and provincial situation using small (or perhaps medium-sized) multiples.

Canada's debt
Canada's debt

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson.

Palestine

With Palestine admitted to the United Nations as a non-member observer state, the Middle East tensions between Israel and Palestine have reached a new level. Regardless, Palestine may now have access to international institutions and is closer to being a recognised, sovereign state. Toronto’s National Post published a large infographic looking at the state of Palestine and how the two non-contiguous territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip compare to each other.

An infographic looking at Palestine
An infographic looking at Palestine

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson.

The Politics of Beer

This Friday at Happy Hour as you sip your pint, are you going to wonder what your beer choice says about your politics? Okay, probably not. But you could. And if you did, this chart from the National Journal would help you identify just what your drink is saying.

Politics of beer
Politics of beer

Is your favourite on the chart? Do you have to reevaluate your choices for November? Or whether or not to go vote?

Credit for the piece goes to Tracey Robinson, NMRPP via the National Journal.

How the UK Got to the 65 Medals We Correctly Predicted

So the Olympics are over. But before they began, I and some co-workers made a prediction about how the United Kingdom and their Team GB would perform. We predicted 65 medals. How did the United Kingdom fare? They won 65 medals. This is a follow-up infographic about what made the United Kingdom a winner at the 2012 Summer Games. It’s a bit larger than the first version, but this one also includes new data and revisits some of the earlier themes.

Another important (and correct) prediction was that China would slip and not reach 100 medals. This should happen after experiencing the host nation bump. While we did not create a number for China, they scored only 87 medals. Another correct prediction.

We Nailed the Prediction of 65 Team GB Medals
We Nailed the Prediction of 65 Team GB Medals

All in all a very successful series. (Created for my employer Euromonitor International, as the usual disclaimer goes.)

Does a High Average BMI Impact a Country’s Chance at the Olympics?

It turns out not so much. A comparison of the 2008 data for average BMI (coarsely how fat a person is) for countries across their economic productivity (GDP per capita) and total medals won shows that a country’s health culture does not greatly impact said country’s Olympic chances.

Does BMI Impact Olympic Performance?
Does BMI Impact Olympic Performance?

This is another from my work series on infographics for the Olympics.

Examining Growth in the G-20

On Sunday the New York Times featured a small graphic highlighting the disparity in growth rates across the G-20 if broken into the ‘core’ G-8 and then what one might call the emerging markets of the G-11.

NYT Coverage of G-20 Growth
NYT Coverage of G-20 Growth

The charts are small yet compelling in telling the story of how the two different groups are performing. However, I was left wanting to better understand the comparisons between the sizes and growth of the various countries. The areas of circles are difficult to compare and aggregates mask interesting outliers. So, using what I imagine to be the same data from the IMF, I took a quick try at the data to create my own infographic.

My G-20 Size and Growth Graphic; click for the full-size view
My G-20 Size and Growth Graphic; click for the full-size view

Indeed, interesting stories began to appear as I plotted the data. Russia is a member of the G-8, but perhaps has more in common with the G-11. After all, Russia’s growth was nearly 500%. Similarly interesting were Canada and Australia. The former, a G-8 country, was the only G-8 country besides Russia to have greater than 100% growth. And Australia, certainly not an emerging market in most senses, experienced nearly 300% growth. Whereas the emerging markets of Mexico and South Korea lag behind the rest of the G-11.

Then, when plotting the sizes of the economies, China was no surprise as the second-largest economy. However, that Brazil has managed to already surpass the G-8 economies of Italy, Russia, and Canada was a bit shocking. And Brazil looks nearly ready to surpass the UK, but for its apparent recent downturn. Also interesting to note are the Financial Crisis dips in GDP across most countries. Some countries, like China, unsurprisingly did not suffer greatly. However, that Japan and South Africa kept on a steady pace of growth was unexpected.

All of that would have been missed but for a slightly deeper dive into the IMF data. And a few hours of my time.