Canadian Tradin’

The Globe and Mail of Canada published an infographic that where I work would probably be called a datagraphic. It presents data in a graphic fashion without a lot of context or conclusions that turn data into information. The piece in question looks at Canada’s balance of trade, i.e. how much it imports from other countries vs how much it exports to other countries.

Canadian trade
Canadian trade

While I appreciate the goal of the overall piece and fully understand that it may have in fact first lived in the print edition, the version shown on their website feels too large for the few data points contained within the graphic. The bars on the right and beneath the timeline are far too wide. The sections could likely have been condensed into a smaller, more compact space that would have given more visual weight to the timeline that clearly tells the story of a more volatile trading period for Canada since the global recession of 2008.

I also would probably change the chart type or simply look at a different data set for the trade balance with principal partners because the data for Japan barely registers. And while the other data can be seen, the minor differences are difficult to read. I would probably shift the emphasis from the actual dollar value of exports and imports to the percentage growth (or decline) of each over the last year.

Ivory Trade

This graphic from the New York Times looks at the illegal ivory trade out of Africa and into, primarily, the markets of Asia. I think the map works fairly well in showing why certain countries are centres for the illicit industry. But the two donut charts integrated into the graphic as part of the Indian Ocean are a bit weaker.

Ivory trade
Ivory trade

My main problem is that the shares are a bit difficult to distinguish as arcs, especially when looking at the export countries. But the second chart with the import markets does work a little bit better. In this case there are really only three markets: China, Thailand, and Others. But the chart contains the ambiguous China or Thailand. So in theory, that demarcation could fall anywhere between China and Thailand—a point harder made if comparing simply by bars. This means that the chart really is looking at China vs Thailand that combine to 87% vs. Others. The trick is finding the break between China and Thailand. Is this chart perfect? No, but in this case I think it an acceptable use of the donut—though I likely would have treated it a little bit differently to emphasise that point.

Made in the USA. Exported to Mexico.

We trade a lot with China. Everyone knows that. But people might not realise that both Canada and Mexico are also among our largest trading partners. (I suppose it helps that they are both right next door.) Mexico is the second-largest importer of US goods after Canada. (China is third.) The Washington Post looked at which states are exporting the most to Mexico and what their largest exports happen to be.

Exporting to Mexico
Exporting to Mexico

Credit for the piece goes to Wilson Andrews, Emily Chow, and Bill Webster.

Revising the Jobs Reports

Last Friday was the jobs report for the month of August. And it was not as high as economists had expected. The problem is that the initial report is often inaccurate despite the fact we make such a big deal about the report. So the Washington Post looked at the revisions that take place in the months afterwards. Yeah, the initial reports are not so accurate.

Revising the Jobs Reports Numbers
Revising the Jobs Reports Numbers

The first two sets of charts (not shown above) look at the initial versus the revised numbers. The third (the cropping above) looks at the difference between those figures. The result is that the first few years of President Obama’s presidency created more jobs than expected but that the last two months have seen worse-than-expected job creation. I would be curious to see how this correlates to the end of the stimulus plan, but I imagine it would be difficult to link that to the jobs reports.

Credit for the piece goes to Todd Lindeman.

How Has the Democratic Party Changed

This past weekend the Washington Post published an infographic looking at how the Democratic Party has demographically changed over time and compared those changes to those in the Republican Party. The piece is large, but shows some interesting trends particularly with the racial diversification of the political parties—or lack thereof. It is an important trend when considering the white population is growing at much slower pace than minority groups.

Democratic Party trends
Democratic Party trends

The Second Battle of Bull Run or The Second Battle of Manassas. Take Your Pick.

So the battle has two different names, but it was undoubtedly bloody. The Washington Post created an infographic exploring this important battle of the Civil War that led to a bloody Union defeat.

Second Bull Run
Second Bull Run

Credit for the piece goes to Gene Thorp, Brenna Maloney, Laura Stanton, and Don Troiani.

Hurricane Isaac vs Hurricane Katrina

I live in the Midwest but I grew up on the East Coast. I spent my summers at the Jersey shore. (No, not that one.) I know a thing or two about hurricanes. Isaac is expected to make landfall later today in the New Orleans area almost seven years to the day when Katrina made landfall. There are some notable differences between the two storm systems and the New York Times has attempted to elucidate those important distinctions in this graphic.

Differences
Differences

Red Sox–Dodgers Trade

There was a lot of news this past weekend. So we’ll start with the important stuff first. An infographic about the big baseball trade between my Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The advantage of a story breaking over the weekend is time to get something together for Monday.

The Red Sox–Dodgers Trade
The Red Sox–Dodgers Trade

Obama Administration Failing on Mortgage Modifications

Today’s post features a Sankey diagram from the New York Times that looks at how the Obama administration has been failing to help homeowners with mortgage problems. Less than 25% of applicants have seen successful modifications of their home loans. The diagram here clearly shows the process and the failures that have led to so many Americans not receiving the help they sought.

Sankey
Sankey

Credit for the piece goes to Alicia Parlapiano.

World Bank—Mobile Phones

A little while ago the World Bank, generally a rich-country club that doles out loans to the developing world, published an infographic looking at mobile phones and their presence in the developing world.

The piece supplemented a report and is rather large. It actually exists as two separate images. The cropping below focuses just on how people in the developing world use mobile phones. Overall the piece is a bit weak in terms of data visualisation types and some of it is a bit confusing, but the story is clearly worth telling. And fortunately there are more hits than misses.

Developing world usage
Developing world usage