• May 23, 2022

    Alyssa Fowers and Leslie Shapiro, for The Washington Post, used the stories of 114 individuals to show weekly Covid deaths. Each story is “cut short”, making the length of each fragment match counts for the corresponding week.

    My brain was slightly confused by the metaphor at first. The lower the count, the more an individual’s story is cut short, but my intuition expected that more deaths would mean stories were cut short more.

    That said, the sentiment is in the right place. Maybe the stories didn’t need to be tied to weekly counts? I’m imagining something closer to Periscopic’s piece from 2013 on lives cut short by guns.

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    May 20, 2022
  • Neil Halloran, known for his documentary films that lean strongly on data visualization, collaborated with RAND to explain the possibility (or lack) of a nuclear winter. In the last third of the film, Halloran also discusses the pursuit of absolute truth and whether it’s truly worth it in the end. Lots to think about.

  • If you’re into R and analyzing sports data, you’ll want to save this CRAN task view:

    This CRAN Task View contains a list of packages useful for sports analytics. Most of the packages are sport-specific and are grouped as such. However, we also include a General section for packages that provide ancillary functionality relevant to sports analytics (e.g., team-themed color palettes), and a Modeling section for packages useful for statistical modeling. Throughout the task view, and collected in the Related links section at the end, we have included a list of selected books and articles that use some of these packages in substantive ways. Our goal in compiling this list is to help researchers find the tools they need to complete their work in R.

  • May 19, 2022

    Leonardo is an open source project from Adobe that helps you pick accessible colors. There’s a JavaScript API along with a browser tool that lets you select colors interactively.

    Color is a common encoding to visualize data. It can be used directly in choropleth maps or heatmaps, indirectly as a redundant encoding, it can be decorative, and it can be used for all the things in between. However, a color scheme doesn’t work if a big chunk of your audience is not able to see the differences. So it’s good to see these sorts of tools available.

    Leonardo is an extension of Chroma.js. Gregor’s Chroma.js palette helper is still my go-to to keep color schemes in check.

  • May 18, 2022

    Sergio Peçanha and Yan Wu, for The Washington Post, used a combination unit chart with individual icons to represent the scale and weight of the near million Covid deaths in the United States.

    Compare this with NYT’s particle-based charts and Axios’ scaled squares. It’s kind of in between the two in level of abstraction, but all three carry similar messages, with a focus on the one-million mark.

  • May 17, 2022

    The Open-Source Psychometrics Project, which seems to have been around for a while, provides personality quizzes as an exercise in data collection and personality education:

    This website has been offering a wide selection of psychological assessments, mostly personality tests, since late 2011 and has given millions of results since then. It exists to educate the public about various personality tests, their uses and meaning, the various theories of personality and also to collect data for research and develop new measures. This website is under continuous development and new tests and information are being added all the time.

    One of the more recent quizzes matches your personality with fictional characters, and the results seem oddly close? I took the short version, and out of 2,000 characters, I was a 92% match to Data from Star Trek. I’m not totally sure how I feel about that.

    You can also download anonymized data collected through the project.

  • May 16, 2022

    The New York Times narrated the path to one million Covid deaths in the United States. They start with one million dots, each one representing a death. As you read, the dots arrange into trends and significant events over these past years.

    As we have talked about before, it’s impossible to communicate the true weight of a single death, much less a million, but the individual dots provide a visual foundation to better understand abstract trends.

  • May 13, 2022

    We’ve been hearing a lot about inflation rates lately on a national scale. However, how inflation impacts you depends on what you spend your money on. Ben Casselman and Ella Koeze for The New York Times provide an estimate for you.

  • Oftentimes what we’re doing isn’t so important as who we’re spending our time with.


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