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.

Favorites

Jobs Charted by State and Salary

Jobs and pay can vary a lot depending on where you live, based on 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s an interactive to look.

Pizza Place Geography

Most of the major pizza chains are within a 5-mile radius of where I live, so I have my pick, …

A Day in the Life of Americans

I wanted to see how daily patterns emerge at the individual level and how a person’s entire day plays out. So I simulated 1,000 of them.

The Best Data Visualization Projects of 2014

It’s always tough to pick my favorite visualization projects. Nevertheless, I gave it a go.