• Powers of Ten, Derek Jeter style

    September 16, 2014  |  Infographics

    Powers of Jeter

    You've likely seen the classic Powers of Ten video from 1977. It starts on an individual and continues to zoom out farther to a view of galaxies. The video provides a sense of scale that makes really big (and really small) numbers more relatable. We're just not very good at picturing scales beyond a certain range.

    So when you hear that retired baseball player Derek Jeter took an estimated 342,000 swings during his professional career, you get that it's a lot, but only kind of. The New York Times went all Powers of Ten on the Jeter swing count to help you see better.

    The piece starts with a single swinging Jeter, and as you scroll down you get the average swings per at-bat, then practice swings per game. Keep going, and you get the career total.

    See all the Jeters.

  • Extinctions and animal species at risk

    September 12, 2014  |  Infographics

    A Disappearing Planet

    Data journalist Anna Flagg for ProPublica reported on animal species at higher risk of extinction.

    Animal species are going extinct anywhere from 100 to 1,000 times the rates that would be expected under natural conditions. According to Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction and other recent studies, the increase results from a variety of human-caused effects including climate change, habitat destruction, and species displacement. Today's extinction rates rival those during the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

    The data has an interesting organization. Think back to sixth-grade science and remember that animals are grouped in a hierarchy of order, family, genus, and species. This hierarchy is represented with horizontal bars on the bottom, vertical line pointers, vertical bars, and elements within each bar, respectively.

    Once you get down to the genus level (vertical bars), the interactive gets kind of tough to use unless you search for a specific species. I want some filters or some breakout sections to highlight spots to look at. However, as a tool for those closer to the challenge, this seems like it could be quite useful.

  • Dinosaurs versus airplane

    September 9, 2014  |  Infographics

    Dinosaurs versus airplane

    Scientists found the fossils of a giant dinosaur that they estimate was 26 meters long and 60 tons heavy. How much is that really? BBC News provided a simple chart to put size into perspective. They compared dinosaur sizes to a moose, African Elephant, and a Boeing 737-900.

    Impressive. Although not as impressive as Mega Shark. [Thanks, Jim]

  • Style over function for redesigned choking posters

    September 5, 2014  |  Infographics

    Escape from Choking in New York by Phil Ashworth

    In many parts of the country, the departments of health require that eating establishments put up posters that instruct you what to do in case someone is choking. The posters are government-issued, but some people are putting up redesigned posters that fit in with restaurant decor. The Sideshow Podcast covers the trend and some of the ridiculous posters to come out of it.
    Continue Reading

  • Race distributions of police departments versus residents

    September 4, 2014  |  Infographics

    Race Gap in Police Departments by NYT

    When you compare distributions of race for police departments and for the residents of the area they serve, you find disparity in many metropolitan areas. Jeremy Ashkenas and Haeyoun Park for the New York Times report, focusing on the higher percentage of white police officers.

    Stacked bars show race distributions for residents (top) and the respective police department (bottom) for selected cities. A map for each area shows bubbles colored by amount of gap and sized by number of police officers. The darker the shade of green, the bigger the gap, so you see mostly green maps.

  • Interactive tool shows impact of terrorism

    August 28, 2014  |  Infographics

    A World of Terror by Periscopic

    The Global Terrorism Database, maintained by the University of Maryland, is an open source database that catalogs terrorism events since 1970 through 2013. Data visualization firm Periscopic visualized the incident-level data in A World of Terror.

    There are over 3,065 organizations and groups listed in the GTD. To identify the top 25 organizations who used terrorist tactics, we determined the groups with the most killings, the most wounded, and the most incidents. We wanted to make sure we were inclusive of all actions, including those that neither wounded nor killed. We aggregated these 3 lists and took the top 25 organizations (most were in the top 30 for all 3 categories). These top 0.8% of groups account for over 26% of the 125,087 incidents.

    The midsection of each group shows number of incidents by month and year. The darker the brown, the more incidents on record. Then on the top and bottom shows number of people killed in red and wounded in orange, respectively. Finally, click on the map in the top left for more information about the organization.

    Spend some time with this one. Periscopic shows a lot without it ever feeling like too much.

  • State of birth, by state and over time

    August 14, 2014  |  Infographics

    Where people in Idaho were born

    We've seen migration within the United States before, but Gregor Aisch, Robert Gebeloff, and Kevin Quealy for the Upshot take a more time-centric look at how people moved state to state, over the past century.

    The following charts document domestic migration since the turn of the last century, based on census data. For every state, we've broken down the population by resident's state of birth. The ribbons are color-coded by region, and foreign-born residents are included at the bottom, in gray, to complete the picture for each state.

    The good thing about the ribbon approach, other than the flow-like aesthetic that lends well to the topic, is that you can see the change in order through the years. Unlike a stacked area chart, each layer isn't restricted to an original ranking, so you can for instance, see that a lot of people born in California moved to Idaho starting in the 1960s.

    On top of that, there are lots of nice details like ribbons move to the top when you mouse over, labels that follow the time series pattern, and a thicker highlight bar at each point in time. All of these make the data easier to read.

    Check out the details of your state and others.

  • Civilian casualties in Gaza

    July 29, 2014  |  Infographics

    Deaths in Gaza

    Lazaro Gamio and Richard Johnson for the Washington Post cover civilian deaths in the recent Gaza conflict, namely child civilians. Red icons represent children.

    Similar to a previous piece on the death penalty in the United States, the icons provide more focus on individuals while maintaining a zoomed out view of the situation. However, this piece brings an interactive component that shows deaths over time and more information in tooltips on the mouseover.

  • Senator John Walsh plagiarism, color-coded

    July 25, 2014  |  Infographics

    John Walsh plagiarism

    John Walsh, the U.S. Senator from Montana, is in the news lately for plagiarizing a large portion of his final paper towards his master's degree. The New York Times highlighted the portions that Walsh copied without attribution (red) and the portions he copied with improper attribution (yellow). About a third of the paper was just straight up lifted from others' works, including the final recommendations and conclusion, which is basically the grand finale.

    See also: Visualizing Plagiarism by Gregor Aisch, which shows the plagiarized PhD thesis of Germany's former Minister of Defense.

  • Changing World Cup fans

    July 13, 2014  |  Infographics

    World Cup fans

    Shan Carter and Kevin Quealy for the Upshot have a look at sports fandom once again using Facebook usage as a proxy. This time they examined shifting fan support during the World Cup.

    A new analysis by Facebook's data science team analyzed migrations of fan support from one country to another throughout the tournament, stage by stage. It's based partly on the contents of people's posts, which means it is largely a reflection of the views of people who follow the World Cup at least to some degree. In the chart above showing global opinion, Brazil, the U.S. and Mexico have a strong influence on the results, because of their size, Facebook population and high interest in the World Cup.

    Keep in mind World Cup posts for a specific country aren't counted once that team dropped from the tournament. So it's not so much shifting fandom as it is who people rooted for during each round.

    Be sure to check out the whole article to see how fandom shifted by country. (Congrats, Germany.)

  • Mosquitos: The deadliest animal

    July 11, 2014  |  Infographics

    Biggest Killers

    This graphic from the Gates Foundation is from a few months ago, but it was just National Mosquito Control Awareness Week. The small illustrations in this case make the graphic. Although I'm interested in seeing those "wide error margins."

  • Whaling in Japan explained

    July 8, 2014  |  Infographics

    Whaling

    After a ruling by the United Nations International Court of Justice, Japan was ordered to stop whaling in parts of Antarctica. However, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently sees the whaling practice differently. Adolfo Arranz for the South China Morning Post explains in a detailed graphic. Above is only about a third of it, so be sure to click through for the full version.

  • Data trails explainer

    July 3, 2014  |  Infographics

    We produce data all the time, everywhere we go, and this process implies something about how we live. Jer Thorp explains in this short explainer video animated by Erica Gorochow.

  • NSA programs with goofy names

    July 1, 2014  |  Infographics

    NSA programs matrix

    Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson for ProPublica made a chart of NSA programs revealed in the past year. Programs were plotted subjectively from foreign to domestic surveillance on the horizontal axis and targeted to bulk surveillance on the vertical. So you get more controversial the further you move up towards the top right corner.

    Interesting stuff.

    The best part though is the goofy program names, as illustrated by Alberto Cairo. ParanoidSmurf and his siblings Nosey, Tracker, and Dreamy; EgotisticalGoat and EgotisticalGiraffe; WillowVixen. First off, who names these programs? And second, how do I get in on the naming action (without becoming creepy)?

  • What separates here from there

    June 13, 2014  |  Infographics

    New Scientist quickly covers three theories of space and time in an informational video.

  • Jobs recovery and loss, by industry

    June 5, 2014  |  Infographics

    Recession reshapes

    Jeremy Ashkenas and Alicia Parlapiano for The Upshot just plopped this interactive sucker on to the web. Each line shows change in job count for an industry. Horizontally, they're organized by average salary, and vertically, they're organized by relative change since the end of the recession. Green represents growth and red represents decline.

    My initial reaction was along the lines of what-the-heck, but then you see the axes and get the mouseover actions for details. Scroll down, and you get highlighted subsets. By the end, you've learned something.

  • Death penalty, the executed and the victims

    May 27, 2014  |  Infographics

    The Washington Post provides a look at the death penalty in the United States, from 1977 to present. On the left is an icon for each executed and on the right are the murderers' victims. Be sure to read the annotation for full context.

    Death penalty comparison

  • Military infographic fascination

    May 21, 2014  |  Infographics

    Military concepts

    Paul Ford describes his fascination with military infographics. Here's what he has to say about the graphic above:

    Take some time with that graphic. After a while you realize that this image could be used anywhere in any paper or presentation and make perfect sense. This is a graphic that defines a way of describing anything that has ever existed and everything that has ever happened, in any situation. The United States Military is operating at a conceptual level beyond every other school of thought except perhaps academic philosophy, because it has a much larger budget.

    Never mind the aesthetics and readability. It's the content and the scale at which these graphics are presented that make them fascinating. Okay, and maybe the aesthetics and readability lend to the entertainment value, too.

  • The size of Game of Thrones dragons compared

    May 1, 2014  |  Infographics

    Release the dragons!

    Because Game of Thrones. Max Fleishman and Fernando Alfonso III for The Daily Dot compared the size of dragons on various shows and movies, from Mushu to Toothless to Smaug to Balerion. The tiny black dot on the left bottom corner is a person.

    See also the size comparison of science fiction starships, Pixar characters, and everything else.

  • Exponential water tank

    March 31, 2014  |  Infographics

    Exponential water tank

    Hibai Unzueta, based on a paper by Albert Bartlett, demonstrates exponential growth with a simple animation. It depicts a man standing in a tank with finite capacity and water rising slowly, but at an exponential rate.

    Our brains are wired to predict future behaviour based on past behaviour (see here). But what happens when something growths exponentially? For a long time, the numbers are so little in relation to the scale that we hardly see the changes. But even at moderate growth rates exponential functions reach a point where the numbers grow too fast. Once we confirm that our predictions about the future have failed, very little time to react may be left.

    All looks safe at first, because the water rises so slowly, but it seems to rise all of a sudden. Oh, the suspense. What will happen to cartoon pixel man?

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