Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick is a contentious figure in American football because of the protests he started against the US national anthem. While other protesting players remain on teams and play, Kaepernick remains unsigned despite what some say is a talent above other players. And as the American football season just began, this article from the Washington Post caught my attention.

Some of the arguments I have seen for Kaepernick’s unsigned status allege he just is not very good. But is that so? What does the data show? Well thankfully the Post dived into that and is running what we can best call a Kaepernick tracker comparing him to qualified quarterbacks in the NFL.

Clearly better than a host of other quarterbacks
Clearly better than a host of other quarterbacks

It turns out, he is a middle-of-the-pack quarterback, demonstrably better than half-a-dozen and sitting solidly amongst an almost third-tier or cluster of players. The data clearly shows that poor performance is not the reason for remaining unsigned, otherwise he would have replaced any number of quarterbacks. True, it could come down to his dollar cost, but most likely his remaining unsigned, compared to almost a dozen players underperforming him, is related to his protests.

Now from the design standpoint, I also wanted to call attention to this article because of the way it handles definitions. The article uses the statistic adjusted net yards per attempt to assess performance. But what does that actually mean? Well, in the digital margins of the piece, the designers include an explanation of that statistic. I thought this was a really well-done part of the article, not interrupting the main narrative flow for a definition that a portion of the audience probably knows. But the more casual followers or people more interested in the political nature of the story would have no idea, and this does a great job of explaining it to us laymen.

What does it all mean?
What does it all mean?

Credit for the piece goes to Reuben Fischer-Baum, Neil Greenberg, and Mike Hume.

Clear the Cache

Some of the aforementioned work that has been keeping me busy is the design of a new part of a website. And one of the most common things I hear when I ask why something is not displaying as I intended is “Have you cleared the cache?”. And that is why this Friday’s piece from xkcd is super relevant to me.

I could have used this table earlier this week
I could have used this table earlier this week

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

Voting on Trump’s Cabinet

Michael Flynn, the National Security Advisor, may have broken the law by talking to the Russian ambassador about Americans sanctions on Russia before Trump took office. One can imagine the furore surrounding the man and the post. However, the post is not confirmed by the Senate, but is appointed by the president. But how has the Cabinet taken shape thus far? Well the New York Times is keeping tracking with this graphic on how senators have voted.

The more controversial picks are on the left, with the more no votes.
The more controversial picks are on the left, with the more no votes.

Credit for the piece goes to Wilson Andrews.

Scoring Boston

Apologies for the long layoff, but life threw me a curveball or two. But in that time I did manage to go out to Boston and catch some of Big Papi’s last regular season games with the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Whilst there, I caught an advert for Boston’s new City Score, which updates the public on how city services are performing. Below is a screenshot from the site.

How is Boston faring
How is Boston faring

Not every datapoint needs to be visualised—sometimes a table does just fine. But, admittedly, what really drew me to the table was its design. For those of you unfamiliar with Fenway and the Red Sox, this table could fit in on the Green Monster with the same colours and type.

Credit for the piece goes to Boston’s design team.

What Has Happened After Police Shootings

Yesterday, I left the office late and encountered a protest in front of my building organised by the Black Lives Matter movement. The protest focused on recent shooting deaths of black men by police officers in Minneapolis and Baton Rouge, but the protests clearly tapped into deeper issues regarding race, inequality, and armed police among others. But in a far more tangible sense, I am left curious what has happened to the police officers involved in these cases? I figured today would be a good day to share the New York Times work on the follow-ups. The piece looks for accountability or the lack thereof in police shootings of civilians. Additional tables look at settlements and Justice Department investigations.

What has happened afterwards

What has happened afterwards

The piece does a nice job of using tables to organise and showcase the results of the investigations. Something about the colour choices feels off; I am far more quickly drawn to the negative results as opposed to the positives. Should that be the idea? Regardless, the work shows that tables, while not the sexiest visualisation form available, have an important role to play in designing displays of information.

Credit for the piece goes to Haeyoun Park and Jasmine C. Lee.

Where is Normal America?

Not every graphic information graphic is a sexy chart or map. Sometimes tables communicate the story just as well. Maybe even better. Today’s post comes from FiveThirtyEight, which examined a claim about what places represent “Normal America”. Turns out that when one looks at the data, here age, race, ethnicity, and education, Normal America is found in the eastern half of the country. And it includes some big cities, notably both Philadelphia and Chicago. The whole article is worth a read, as it goes on exploring states representing Normal America and then places that represent 1950s America.

Where is Normal America?
Where is Normal America?

So where is Normal America? New Haven, Connecticut.

Credit for the piece goes to Jed Kolko.

Tracking Super Tuesday

On Tuesday I tracked the results primarily with the New York Times and the Washington Post. I really enjoyed the Post’s coverage as they designed a homepage for the night’s results. The results were placed at the centre of the content, as you can see in the screenshot below. Below the map and table, content updated on the right with links to more static content on the left.

The results hub Tuesday night
The results hub Tuesday night

The map and table above naturally updated throughout the course of evening. I found their decision to move states from one table to the other when the race was declared a brilliant little decision. When reinforced with a small checkmark, the movement from the lower table to the final table at the top gave a real sense of progress—maybe momentum—to the victories of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Final results table and map
Final results table and map

Overall, this was a very helpful site for me to follow the results streaming in Tuesday night.

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

The Safe List

Migrants and refugees continue to reach Europe. But some of those people can be sent back, depending upon their country of origin. The tricky part is that there is no common set of countries as this graphic from the Economist shows.

The safe list
The safe list

In terms of design, we see nothing too elaborate here. This is really just a table where checks, half-checks, and exes would have sufficed. But, sometimes, a table is really all you need to convey the important data.

Credit for the piece goes to the Economist’s Data Team.