Understanding segregation with a simulation

In 1971, Nobel laureate economist Thomas Schelling proposed that a desire to have neighbors of the same race — even a small percentage — can lead to segregation. The model has been simulated through a variety of interactives before, but in Parable of the Polygons, Vi Hart and Nicky Case put extra effort into teaching the model, bringing playfulness to an otherwise serious subject.

Two groups of people are encoded as shapes — squares and triangles — and they take you through each step of the model. Use the sliders to adjust thresholds and population distributions, and run the simulation. The shapes on the left move if they’re looking for similarity, and the line chart on the right shows segregation over time.

You end up with an understanding of how segregation works (however simplified this model might be) and a glimmer of hope of how we might shift directions.

Worth a try.

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Reviving the Statistical Atlas of the United States with New Data

Due to budget cuts, there is no plan for an updated atlas. So I recreated the original 1870 Atlas using today’s publicly available data.

Real Chart Rules to Follow

There are rules—usually for specific chart types meant to be read in a specific way—that you shouldn’t break. When they are, everyone loses. This is that small handful.

Interactive: When Do Americans Leave For Work?

We don’t all start our work days at the same time, despite what morning rush hour might have you think.

Life expectancy changes

The data goes back to 1960 and up to the most current estimates for 2009. Each line represents a country.