Tag Archives: dot plot

Changing the Minimum Wage

Here’s a piece from the New York Times where I have to quibble with some minor design decisions. The story behind the graphic is various state actions on the minimum wage compared to where President Obama wants the minimum wage raised. This is a good story and broadly I like the execution. But these arrows, these arrows pierce my design heart. (Too much of a metaphor?) Instead, I think a simple dot plot would have sufficed. But as I noted above, this is more of a quibble than a shame-on-you.

Changes to minimum wages at the state level

Changes to minimum wages at the state level

Credit for the piece goes to Alicia Parlapiano.

Household Income Inequality

The Washington Post published this dot plot graphic to explore inequality in household income across numerous American cities.

Household income inequality

Household income inequality

The chart, as most dot plots do, does a good job of showing where several distinct points within a set fall within the entire range of data. Or to put it into other words, where do the poorest, the richest, and the most middlest households in Philadelphia fall within all Philadelphia households? The data is interesting because you will begin to uncover some significant outliers. For example, by quick glance, the 50th percentile in both Detroit and Cleveland earn less than the 20th percentile in San Jose.

Credit for the piece goes to the Washington Post graphics department.

It’s Cold Outside

I have spent this past week in Lithuania for work. And it was cold. But it was colder still in Chicago. Thankfully on a Friday we have xkcd to put all this cold into a bit more perspective. Although his example uses St. Louis, I presume it holds for most cities.

It's cold outside

It’s cold outside

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

Wealth and Education

Today’s post looks at education across a set of 65 countries from a standardised test backed by the OECD, basically a group of wealthy countries. The test results found that some poor countries have surprisingly good education systems whereas some of the world’s wealthiest countries—here’s looking at you, United States—perform poorly. The Huffington Post created this graphic to plot the data.

Education scores

Education scores

I really enjoy this piece. It plots each income decile’s results, blocks the countries into OECD members versus their partners, and then each country’s average socioeconomic status is shown as being above or below the OECD average. This is the type of piece I see as a static image that I would want to see made interactively—though I fully understand how difficult and time-consuming that can be—so that I could begin to filter and re-arrange the data. Could discoveries be made by organising countries by geographic regions? Could one just look at the top or bottom deciles?

Credit for the piece goes to Jan Diehm.

Speeding on Chicago’s Tollways

The Illinois Tollways will be raising speed limits starting 1 January. Part of that process includes researching current driving habits and patterns. This graphic by the Chicago Tribune looks at some of the results. While the map part is necessary to show the routes themselves and the limits on those routes, the more interesting part is the dot plot below.

Illinois Tollway speeds

Illinois Tollway speeds

Credit for the piece goes to the Chicago Tribune’s graphic department.

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.

Strikeouts on the Upswing

Strikeouts are an important part of baseball. They are the moments where the pitcher wins the duel between pitcher and batter that is the essential element of baseball. But over the years the game has seen more and more batters striking out more often. Earlier this year the New York Times looked at the rising rates of strikeouts in a story supported by interactive data visualisation components.

Strikeouts on the upswing

Strikeouts on the upswing

Like the piece on Bryce Harper, this piece on strikeouts is more of a narrative with the interactive graphics supporting the written words. It is not as lengthy as the Washington Post’s piece, but this one is far more interactive as the user can select his or her favourite teams and follow their performance over time.

Credit for the piece goes to Shan Carter, Kevin Quealy and Joe Ward.

Comparing Medical Cost Comparisons

Yesterday both the New York Times and the Washington Post published fascinating pieces looking at the difference in the cost of medical procedures. But each took a different approach.

I want to start with the New York Times, which focused at the hospital level because the data is available at that level of granularity. They created a geo-tagged map where hospitals were colour-coded by whether their bills were below, slightly above, or significantly above the US average.

Hospitals across the United States

Hospitals across the United States

The ability to search for a specific town allows people to search for their hometown, state, country and then compare that to everyone else. My hometown of West Chester, Pennsylvania is fortunate—or perhaps not—to have several hospitals in the area that charge at different rates. That makes for an interesting story. But I am from the densely populated East Coast and someone from say rural Montana might not have the same sort of interesting view.

Hospitals near West Chester, Pennsylvania

Hospitals near West Chester, Pennsylvania

Regardless of the potential for uninteresting small-area comparisons, once you find your hospital, you can click it to bring up detailed statistics for procedures, costs, and comparisons to the average.

Brandywine Hospital's data

Brandywine Hospital's data

All of this makes for a very granular and very detailed breakdown of hospital versus hospital coverage. But what if you want something broader? What good is comparing Brandywine Hospital to some medical centre in Chicago? Neither is reflective of the healthcare industry in the Philadelphia area or the Chicago area, let alone Pennsylvania or Illinois. The Washington Post tackles this broader comparison.

The Post leads off with a hospital-level example from Miami. Two hospitals on one street have vastly different prices. If we knew about this in Miami we could surely find that in the New York Times map. Instead, the Post guides us to that kind of example.

Comparing two hospitals in Miami

Comparing two hospitals in Miami

But the broader view is the centre of the piece. Using dot plots and filters, the user can compare the state averages for 10 different medical procedures. Fixed to the plot are the minimum and maximum averages along with the national average. And given the Post’s smaller circulation area—the New York Times is national, the Post is less so—there are quick links to states of particular interest: DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

Pennsylvan's averages

Pennsylvan's averages

The ability to pick different states from the drop down menu allows the user to quickly see differences between states. What is lacking is perhaps a quick view of where all the states are visible so that the user does not have to click through each individual state.

California's averages

California's averages

Both pieces are very successful at their narrowly-focused aims. Neither tries to do everything all at once, but nor would their designs allow for it. Plotting and filtering all the hospitals could be done in the Post’s style, but it would be messy. The state averages could all be made to colour state shape files, but you would lose the inter-procedure differences, the minimums, maximums, and the averages. In short the two pieces from the two teams complement each other very well, but a weird and hybrid-y cross of the two would be large, cumbersome, and potentially difficult to use without spending a lot of time to design and develop the solution. (Which I imagine they did not have.)

Credit for the piece from the New York Times goes to Matthew Bloch, Amanda Cox, Jo Craven McGinty, and Matthew Ericson.

Credit for the piece from the Washington Post goes to Wilson Andrews, Darla Cameron, and Dan Keating.

The Republicans and Hispanic Voters

Following on last week’s posts on immigration comes today’s post on how that might impact Republican politics. Well I say might but pretty much mean definitely. The graphic comes from the Wall Street Journal and it takes a look at the demographic makeup of states, House congressional districts and then survey data on immigration broken into Republicans vs. Democrats.

The GOP's Tricky Terrain

The GOP's Tricky Terrain

I think the piece is a good start, but at the end of the introductory paragraph is the most salient point about the piece. And unfortunately the graphic does not wholly embody that part. Of course within limited time and with limited resources, achieving that sort of completeness is not always possible. That said I think overall the piece is successful, it just lacks that finishing graphical point.

Credit for the piece goes to Dante Chinni and Randy Yeip.

Terrorism in the United States

Terrorism is not new to the United States. As this graphic from the New York Times shows, even in recent decades, we experienced quite a lot of it. In 1970 there were over 400 attacks. However, since 2001, the United States has seen far fewer attacks. Fortunately the Boston Marathon bombing is not as bad as it could have been. But even then, thankfully the bombing is a relative anomaly.

Incidence of Terrorist Attacks in the United States

Incidence of Terrorist Attacks in the United States

Credit for the piece goes to the graphics department of the Times.