The Greeks Voted Sunday Too

Over at the Guardian, I was using this interactive piece from igraphics to follow the election results there. (It was a slight bit more interesting than following the French presidential election, because everybody knew Sarkozy was going to lose.)

Greek election results
Greek election results

Credit for the piece goes to igraphics, a Greek data visualisation outfit.

Santorum Quits. Goodbye…and Thanks for all the Varicose Veins.

So Rick Santorum is now out of the race. Mitt Romney is basically now set to run against the President. But why should Santorum go out without an infographic looking back at the Republican primary race. (Since neither Newt nor Ron come even close to running the same race as Rick.)

The New York Times put out an infographic looking at Rick Santorum’s campaign. And as one can see, he did do well in the evangelical and Christian conservative heartland of the United States. It just was not quite enough to beat Romney’s supporters.

County leaders in Republican primary states
County leaders in Republican primary states

But, Santorum did manage to last longer in the race than many others have in recent years. So who knows, depending on how the election in November turns out, we may just see more of Rick in the future.

A timeline of withdrawal
A timeline of withdrawal

The First Rule Is You Don’t Talk About It

There are two things one is not supposed to discuss in mixed company, and let us face it, the internet is some rather mixed company. One of those things, politics, I frequently mention and bring up on this blog. The other, religion, I do not.

Until now. (I think.)

From the National Post comes this work on the size and distribution of the world’s religions.

World religions
World religions

Credit for the work goes to Richard Johnson.

21st Century Prohibition

This map comes from the BBC, which investigates prohibition in the 21st century at the local level, as the national policy ended in the early decades of the 20th century.

Dry vs Wet Counties
Dry vs Wet Counties

Credit for the map goes to John Walton, Harjit Kaura, and Nadzeya Batson.

Heritage Maps

From FlowingData comes a post to an interactive piece by Bloomberg that looks at the geographic distribution of different heritage—read heritage, neither race nor ethnicity—groups. (Its choice of groups, however, is slightly contentious as it omits several important ones, including African-Americans.)

I would say that a typical map like this would simply plot the percent of each county, state, or other sub-division for the selected heritage group. Much like below, as I chose the Irish.

Irish heritage
Irish heritage

Bloomberg’s piece is a bit more interesting than that because of the ability to compare two groups, to see where they overlap and where they diverge. In doing so, they created a divergent choropleth that can show the subtleties and nuances of settlement patterns.

Irish vs German
Irish vs German

Credit for the piece goes to David Yanofsky.

And the Award Comes From…an Old White Male. Most Likely.

So apparently last night actors, directors, and others associated with the production of films won little statues. (And then probably celebrated with fancy foods and wines.) Yes, last night was the Academy Awards. But who is this Academy that decides upon the best films and performances?

As it turns out, the demographics of the Academy do not quite mirror those of the broader country. Just over a week ago, the Los Angeles Times looked at the Academy and visualised its membership, discovering the details of which was itself a journalistic feat.

The demographics of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The demographics of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

After a broad overview with pie charts and such, each branch was mapped as a choropleth to the Los Angeles area. Those members from outside the LA metropolitan area were given small squares to represent their cities.

Where the actors live
Where the actors live

As someone not at all familiar with Los Angeles and its neighbourhoods, perhaps where the members of the various branches of the Academy live is actually somewhat interesting. However, I fail to understand the value in that. More useful is the idea of breaking out a socio-economic demographic and mapping that data. And if that had been the case here we almost have a set of small multiples. These are just a bit big.

Overall, a solid body of work.

Credit for the visualisation piece goes to Doug Smith, Robert Burns, Khang Nguyen, and Anthony Pesce.

Adding Guided Context to Maps

Maps are cool. They show the geographic distribution of data. And that is fantastic if there is a story in said distribution. But even if there is a story, sometimes given both the scale of the map and the amount of data encoded in the map, how could you possibly expect to find the story? Which little region of the map do you search to find the interesting nuggets?

On Sunday, the New York Times published an interesting solution to that very quandary. The context is an article looking at the anger and resentment felt by some towards government assistance via the social safety net, and yet how these very same people depend upon that safety net through programmes like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, &c. The map, a choropleth, examines several different metrics that comprise government assistance, e.g. Medicaid payments as a percentage of income.

Government benefits overview
Government benefits overview

One can easily toggle through the various metrics at the scale of the entire United States. This is a rather standard feature for such maps. However, in the upper-left corner, the designers placed a ‘guide’ that provides context and stories for each metric. But, not only does the guide provide text to support the map, but it zooms in on specific areas and regions that then support the text and best exemplify the point.

Here we see the map of the whole US for Medicaid, which appears to be scattered pockets of higher percentages. Interesting perhaps, but the user likely has few ideas as to what that visualisation actually means.

Medicaid's broad overview
Medicaid's broad overview

Compare that to the guide’s view of the map, which focuses on the large cities on the East Coast.

Medicaid's eastern core context
Medicaid's eastern core context

Providing context and guiding a reader/user through the stories contained in the map, or at least those deemed interesting by the designers and editors, is an interesting solution to the problem of finding the story in maps such as these. However, by moving away from a strict visualisation of the data, the New York Times and others that try similar avenues introduce human biases in the story-telling that may otherwise be unwanted or distracting.

Credit for the piece goes to Jeremy White, Robert Gebeloff, Ford Fessenden, Archie Tse and Alan McLean.

Florida Primary

The Republican primaries…they’re still going on…on the long inevitable road to Romney’s coronation. Next up is Florida, always an interesting state to watch. There are a lot of people there with a whole host of interesting demographic slices. Perhaps one of the most interesting ones, at least to the media, is the Hispanic vote. Other things to look at in Florida include the burst housing bubble and rather high unemployment.

The New York Times published a graphic with a few maps and charts trying to paint the landscape of the Florida primary battle. These two selections below show which Republican primary candidates won which counties in 2008 as well as the size of the Hispanic population registered Republican.

Florida primary landscape
Florida primary landscape

Credit for the piece goes to Haeyoun Park.

Killed in Action in Iraq, State by State

The Iraq War is over. And now it is time to reflect on what we have gained and what we have lost. This map by the Guardian details the number of soldiers killed in action in Iraq. (Other options include total wounded, killed by non-hostile, &c.)

Killed in Action in Iraq by State
Killed in Action in Iraq by State

Unfortunately, I call it a ‘no kidding’ type of map. The data, accessible via the Guardian here, corresponds nicely with a list of states by total population. Of the top ten countries in KIA, only Virginia is not among the top ten in population; it is 12th. The country thus not in the top ten in KIA, but in population is North Carolina. It’s rank in terms of KIA? 11th.

The data is interesting and worth depicting if we are to reflect. But, perhaps a more suitable visualisation could have been chosen.

On a personal note, these Google Maps overlays are annoying when, in the cases of, e.g., Wisconsin and Massachusetts, the shapes are incorrect. Perhaps coastlines are not as easy as states with ‘straight lines’ for boders, but we would do well to try and make irregular coasts at least somewhat correct.

Technology Today

Technology changes and changes rapidly. The United States led the way with cabled phone networks. Now, countries in Africa are skipping landlines and moving straight to mobile phones. The New York Times has an piece on the changes in technology and accompanies that piece with small multiples of choropleth maps that showcase different technologies and their prevalence.

Mobile Phone Subscriptions
Mobile Phone Subscriptions

What is interesting about these maps is that the Times eschewed the conventional Mercator or Robinson map projections and went with a slightly more unusual layout. But, a layout that saves some space by its contortion of the world’s oceans. Was their reason spatial or something more about maintaining consistent area? I would be curious to see the piece in print to see if it needed to fit a narrow column.

All in all, an interesting set of maps.