• Coffee place geography

    Coffee place geography

    My fascination with the geography of place and businesses continues.
  • Where people run

    February 5, 2014  |  Data Underload

    Where people run

    There are many exercise apps that allow you to keep track of your running, riding, and other activities. Record speed, time, elevation, and location from your phone, and millions of people do this, me included. However, when we look at activity logs, whether they be our own, from our friends, or from a public timeline, the activities only appear individually.

    What about all together? Not only is it fun to see, but it can be useful to the data collectors to plan future workouts or even city planners who make sure citizens have proper bike lanes and running paths.
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  • Last day to pre-order quotes poster

    January 29, 2014  |  Projects

    Famous movie quotesIt's been an interesting few days. I thought a few people would find the famous quotes graphic amusing, but I didn't expect so many to share my odd sense of humor. Thanks.

    If you haven't pre-ordered a poster yet, today's the last day to get it at a discounted price.

    Put your order in here.

    I'm going to proof the poster a few more times tonight and then send it to the printers. They should take about a week to get the finished posters to me. From there, I'll be (really) busy signing and rolling.

    I still expect mid-February shipments to you. International shipping takes a little longer of course, depending on where you are.

  • Movie quotes as charts, poster edition

    January 21, 2014  |  Projects

    Famous movie quotesSince so many of you kind people asked, the movie-quotes-as-charts graphic is now coming to a poster near you. Take advantage of the early-bird pricing and pre-order the print now.

    The poster is 24 inches wide by 36 inches tall, printed on 80lb cover and with a matte finish. I'll sign and hand-number each of them.

    I'll take orders for a week, and then it's off to the printers. Printing usually takes a week or two, depending on how many there are, and then I'll roll and mail everything myself. So if all goes as planned, the posters go out in February.

    Thanks all for your interest. And one more time: Get your pre-order in here.

  • Famous movie quotes as charts

    January 16, 2014  |  Data Underload

    AFI movie quotes

    In celebration of their 100-year anniversary, the American Film Institute selected the 100 most memorable quotes from American cinema, and a few years ago, for kicks and giggles, I put the first eight quotes into chart form. I planned to chartify all 100, but I got distracted.

    Lately though, finishing what I started became my distraction. So here it is: the 100 most memorable quotes in chart form and I can finally put it to rest. See the big version for more detail.

    Also available in print.

  • The most regional names in US history

    November 18, 2013  |  Data Underload

    Outlier names

    It was a challenge to choose a name for my son, someone who wasn't born yet, because I didn't know where to start amongst hundreds of thousands of choices. So I approached the decision the best way I knew how, through data. That brought me back to Hilary Parker's analysis on the most poisoned name in history, which led me to the most trendy, and then the most unisex. I wanted a name that wasn't automatically associated with a fad or gender ambiguous.

    Here's one more criteria I could've added: regionality. (My wife and I already named our son, but the data from the Social Security Administration continues as a source of entertainment.)
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  • Pizza place geography

    October 14, 2013  |  Data Underload

    Pizza place geography

    Most of the major pizza chains are within a 5-mile radius of where I live, so I have my pick, but I usually order from whatever place is closest to where I am. So it doesn't matter if there are more Domino's locations than Pizza Huts where I live. I just want my feeding time to come sooner rather than later, and if that place happens to be Pizza Hut so be it. (Although, if I'm not in a rush, I'll go to the local sit-down place.)
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  • The most unisex names in US history

    September 25, 2013  |  Data Underload

    The most unisex names in US history

    Moving on from the most trendy names in US history, let's look at the most unisex ones. Some names have always been predominantly male, such as Frank and Joseph, and some names are mostly female, such as Jessica and Michelle. However, there is a small group of names that is split between male and female. The charts above show the most unisex names between 1930 and 2012.
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  • Most popular porn searches, by state

    September 3, 2013  |  Data Underload

    Most popular porn searches, by state

    We've seen that we can learn from what people search for, through the eyes of Google suggestions: state stereotypes, national stereotypes, and even the insecurities of age. Do we see anything when we look at porn searches?
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  • In search of food deserts

    August 27, 2013  |  Data Underload

    In search of food deserts

    Last time I looked at where major grocery stores are across the United States. Where you shop for groceries changes depending on what region you live in, but hunger and nutrition carries less variance. It's important that everyone has access to healthy food options, so I looked at the data, this time from Google and from a different angle. Instead of where stores are, I looked at how far away the nearest grocery store is.
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  • Doctor timeline for Doctor Who

    August 5, 2013  |  Data Underload

    The Doctors

    I have yet to see a full episode of Doctor Who, "the longest-running science fiction television show in the world" but it was apparently really big news that Peter Capaldi is set to be the next regeneration of the character. Capaldi will be the twelfth doctor since the first episode aired in 1963. Out of curiosity, I had a look at past seasons and how some past doctors have crossed paths.

    Counting specials and the one television movie, it's been 800 episodes. Maybe there's something to this phone booth guy.

  • The most trendy names in US history

    July 29, 2013  |  Data Underload

    Names are incredibly personal things. It's how we identity ourselves. We associate others, places, and points in our past with names. Maybe you recall a family member, a celebrity, or a significant other.

    At the same time, it's not uncommon for two people with the same name to run into each other, and it's why gift shops can sell and profit from those mini license plates. Parents decide what they want to call their kid at some point. So as you walk through history, you end up with names that surge, some that die off, and some that come back again.

    Hilary Parker already looked at the most poisoned name in US history (her own). Here we look at names from the other direction. The most trendy:

    Most trendy names
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  • Economist spotting

    July 11, 2013  |  Data Points

    It was surprisingly hard for me to find a physical copy of this week's The Economist, but I got it. Pretty awesome:

    A page from The Economist.jpg

  • Reading the data

    July 6, 2013  |  Data Points

    The Economist covered a handful of visualization books in this week's issue, and Data Points was in the bunch (nice). Here is the review's accompanying video:

  • Grocery store geography

    June 26, 2013  |  Data Underload

    Where the grocery stores are

    I've been poking around grocery store locations, courtesy of AggData, the past few days.

    There's a grocery store just about everywhere you go in the United States, because, well, we gotta eat. They look similar in that they sell produce on one side, meat in the back, and snacks and soda on the side opposite the produce. Magazines and small candies are carefully situated at eye-level by the cash registers. There's usually a deli counter and prepared foods near the bread section. And yet, despite the generic format and layout, these stores can remind us of places and specific periods of our lives.
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  • What the Sexes Want, in Speed Dating

    June 12, 2013  |  Data Underload


    A few years ago I downloaded speed dating data from experiments conducted by Raymond Fisman, et al. (2005), which represents about 8,000 dates by 551 people. On each date, people scored each other on attractiveness, intelligence, ambition, and some other things, along with a yes or a no to seeing the other person again on a regular date.

    Fisman, et al. noted gender differences in mate selection, such as: "Women put greater weight on the intelligence and the race of partner, while men respond more to physical attractiveness." And this: "Men do not value women's intelligence or ambition when it exceeds their own." Seemed like data worth checking out.
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  • Data Points: Sample chapter

    May 10, 2013  |  Data Points

    It's hard to believe it's been over a month since Data Points: Visualization That Means Something hit the shelves. Thanks to all of you for the tweets, emails, and pictures of the book in the wild. Every one make me smile, and I'm glad that people are finding it helpful.

    In case you're still deciding, here's a sample chapter from the book. It's Chapter 3 on representing data and should give you a good idea of what to expect. And of course it's way sexier in print.
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  • Introducing Data Points

    April 4, 2013  |  Data Points

    Whoa, that was fast. Data Points is now available. Thanks to all of you for making this possible.

  • Data Points: Preview

    April 3, 2013  |  Data Points

    Data Points by Nathan Yau

    This appeared at my door today. It's awesome.

    I suspect those who pre-ordered Data Points (thanks!) should receive their copies soon.
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  • Data Points: What it’s like to write a book

    March 25, 2013  |  Data Points

    Data Points numbers

    As the publication of Data Points nears, I'm excited to hold it in my hands just like I was the first time. It feels weird to say that. In college, a 5-page report seemed like too much to handle, and I would hunt for fonts that took the most space and fiddled with margins to produce more pages, without making it look like I did. I guess a lot can happen in 10 years. Heck, a lot can happen in a few months.

    I think the difference is that now I'm writing about something that's interesting to me — topics that I immerse myself in for fun — which makes the book-writing process fun.

    Sure, it can be challenging at times, but in the best way possible. Here's my experience with Data Points.
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Unless otherwise noted, graphics and words by me are licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC. Contact original authors for everything else.