Using the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, Vocativ analyzed more than 600 speeches from all the American Presidents for ease of comprehension. What they found was a trend toward simpler language as speeches needed to appeal to a wider range of people, not just super-educated white men.
I think President Obama, no more or less than President Bush, tries to pack a lot of nuance and subtext into language that is as plain and straightforward as possible. While President Bush was often inarticulate off the cuff, Bush's speeches were underestimated. There was a crisp formality to a lot of his best speeches, particularly the ones he delivered shortly after Sept. 11.
Every day, every hour, every minute we are bombarded with information, from television, from newspapers, from the Internet, we're steeped in it. We need a way to relate to it. Enter David McCandless and his stunning infographics, simple, elegant ways to interact with information too complex or abstract to grasp any way but visually. McCandless creates visually stunning displays that blend the facts with their connections, contexts, and relationships, making information meaningful, entertaining, and beautiful. And his genius is as much in finding fresh ways to provocatively combine datasets as it is in finding new ways to show the results.
Mesmerizing. Has anyone done analysis on which drivers are the most effective and what the data shows as the most effective techniques? The best drivers must have their tricks on where to be at which times to get the most fares. (via @dens)
Algorithms are a fascinating use case for visualization. To visualize an algorithm, we don't merely fit data to a chart; there is no primary dataset. Instead there are logical rules that describe behavior. This may be why algorithm visualizations are so unusual, as designers experiment with novel forms to better communicate. This is reason enough to study them.
But algorithms are also a reminder that visualization is more than a tool for finding patterns in data. Visualization leverages the human visual system to augment human intellect: we can use it to better understand these important abstract processes, and perhaps other things, too.
If nothing else, skim through the text and play the visualizations. The one of the maze turning into a tree visualization baked my noodle a little bit.
The center of the population of the United States has been moving steadily west and south since 1790. This video shows the progression until 2010:
You can step through the animation yourself on the US Census Bureau site. It's interesting to see how even the changes are...there was one big jump from 1850 to 1860 and a slow down in westward migration from 1890 to 1940, but other than that, it shifted west about 40-50 miles each decade.
In 1994, the overlap was much greater than it is today. Twenty years ago, the median Democrat was to the left of 64% of Republicans, while the median Republican was to the right of 70% of Democrats. Put differently, in 1994 23% of Republicans were more liberal than the median Democrat; while 17% of Democrats were more conservative than the median Republican. Today, those numbers are just 4% and 5%, respectively.
Data visualization of Citi Bike trips taken over a 48-hour period in NYC:
Love seeing the swarms starting around 8am and 5:30pm but hate experiencing them. I've been using Citi Bike almost since the launch last year and I can't imagine NYC without it now. I use it several times daily, way more than the subway even. I hope they can find a way to make it a viable business.
NASA announced the discovery of 719 new planets today. That brings the tally of known planets in our universe to almost 1800. 20 years ago, that number was not more than 15 (including the nine planets orbiting the Sun). Here's a rough timeline of the dramatically increasing pace of planetary discovery:
So when I'm looking at data, or working on an explanatory graphic, these are the moments I'm looking for. Little "Aha!" moments that I can point to, and say "Look here, something happened," and then try to explain. Often those small moments can help lead a reader into the graphic, or help to explain the whole.
The actual non-metaphorical weight of rain is surprisingly heavy; an inch of rain on an acre of land weighs 113.31 tons.
And here's the graph for general search terms. (I excluded Snapchat from the Google graphs because Google wouldn't allow 6 search terms at a time...it barely showed up in either case.) Twitter rules the rap roost, but Facebook demolishes everyone in general and news search traffic.
Pappy Van Winkle is frequently described by both educated and uneducated drinkers as the best bourbon on the market. It is certainly aged for longer than most premium bourbons, and has earned a near hysterical following of people scrambling to get one of the very few bottles that are released each year. Of the long-aged bourbons, it seems to be aged very gently year-to-year, and this recommends it enormously. But if you, like most people, can't find Pappy, try W. L. Weller. There's a 12 year old variety that retails for $23 around the corner. Pappy 15-year sells for $699-$1000 even though it's the exact same liquid as the Pappy (same mash bill, same spirit, same barrels); the only difference is it's aged 3 years less.
Written by the founders of Kings County Distillery, New York City's first distillery since Prohibition, this spirited illustrated book explores America's age-old love affair with whiskey. It begins with chapters on whiskey's history and culture from 1640 to today, when the DIY trend and the classic cocktail craze have conspired to make it the next big thing. For those thirsty for practical information, the book next provides a detailed, easy-to-follow guide to safe home distilling, complete with a list of supplies, step-by-step instructions, and helpful pictures, anecdotes, and tips.
Sadly, most infographics these days look like this, functioning as a cheap and easy way to gussy up numbers. But when done properly, infographics are very effective in communicating a lot of information in a short period of time and can help you see data in new ways. In The Best American Infographics 2013, Gareth Cook collects some of the best ones from over the past year. Wired has a look at some of the selections.
The Rolling Stones have been touring for almost 50 years, starting with a British tour in 1963, and this tool allows you to visualize their travels. It's really cool. The craziest part to me is how dramatically the length of their tours has increased since they started out. Their first tour in 1963 (actually one of their longer tours early in their career) was about 28 shows over the course of a month. Their last tour in 2005 had about a gabillion shows over two years and grossed $528 million.
On a personal note, I read "The Rolling Stones" several times on this page and still spent parts of two days looking at it and thinking it was The Beatles tour visualization. Twice. I read "The Rolling Stones," thought it was The Beatles, corrected myself, and then thought it was The Beatles again. (via @pbump)
Many diseases affect metabolism and many changes in metabolism can be detected in the urine. For example, diabetics will excrete sugar in their urine -- sometimes enough sugar that it can be fermented into whisky. There are many other diseases that change the smell of a person's urine, including the very descriptively named Maple Syrup Urine Disease or Sweaty Feet Syndrome, now much more likely to be diagnosed by electronic sensor arrays than actually tasting the urine.
It was not my intent to be so politically oriented this morning but here we are. This is a chart that tracks the ideologies of the Democratic and Republican members of Congress from 1789 to 2010. As you can see, the shift away from the center by the Republicans since 1975 is unprecedented, perhaps matched only by the shift toward the center by the Democrats beginning in 1921 and ending in 1945.
This is a long zoom look at how pizza gets delivered to hungry people. It starts by looking at the routes taken by a Dominos delivery person during a typical night and slowly zooms out to reveal the pizza giant's national supply chain.
Embark with Kwon on a trip that begins with a pizza delivery route in New York City, then goes across the country to California's Central Valley, where nearly 50 percent of America's fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown, and into the heartland for an aerial look at our farmlands.
Our everyday lives are filled with a massive flow of information that we must interpret in order to understand the world we live in. Considering this complex variety of data floating around us, sometimes the best -- or even only -- way to communicate is visually. This unique book presents a fascinating historical perspective on the subject, highlighting the work of the masters of the profession who have created a number of breakthroughs that have changed the way we communicate. Information Graphics has been conceived and designed not just for designers or graphics professionals, but for anyone interested in the history and practice of communicating visually.
The in-depth introductory section, illustrated with over 60 images (each accompanied by an explanatory caption), features essays by Sandra Rendgen, Paolo Ciuccarelli, Richard Saul Wurman, and Simon Rogers; looking back all the way to primitive cave paintings as a means of communication, this introductory section gives readers an excellent overview of the subject. The second part of the book is entirely dedicated to contemporary works by the current most renowned professionals, presenting 200 graphics projects, with over 400 examples -- each with a fact sheet and an explanation of methods and objectives -- divided into chapters by the subjects Location, Time, Category, and Hierarchy.
Any scientist or engineer who communicates research results will immediately recognize this practical handbook as an indispensable tool. The guide sets out clear strategies and offers abundant examples to assist researchers-even those with no previous design training-with creating effective visual graphics for use in multiple contexts, including journal submissions, grant proposals, conference posters, or presentations.
Visual communicator Felice Frankel and systems biologist Angela DePace, along with experts in various fields, demonstrate how small changes can vastly improve the success of a graphic image. They dissect individual graphics, show why some work while others don't, and suggest specific improvements. The book includes analyses of graphics that have appeared in such journals as Science, Nature, Annual Reviews, Cell, PNAS, and the New England Journal of Medicine, as well as an insightful personal conversation with designer Stefan Sagmeister and narratives by prominent researchers and animators.
This shows mostly Spanish, Dutch, and English routes -- they are surprisingly constant over the period (although some empires drop in and out of the record), but the individual voyages are fun. And there are some macro patterns -- the move of British trade towards India, the effect of the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and so on.
There are times in the video when a single nation dominates all of the shipping traffic...the British in the early 1800s and the Dutch from the mid 1830s on.
I want to share with you something I've learned. I'll draw it on the blackboard behind me so you can follow more easily [draws a vertical line on the blackboard]. This is the G-I axis: good fortune-ill fortune. Death and terrible poverty, sickness down here-great prosperity, wonderful health up there. Your average state of affairs here in the middle [points to bottom, top, and middle of line respectively].
This chart shows former and future superheroes by movie. That is, George Clooney played Batman, so Out of Sight gets a Batman, along with another Batman for Micheal Keaton, and a Nick Fury for Sam Jackson. Lots of movies have 4 superheroes, though none on this chart have 5. Click through, you'll understand. If you want to see how they all fit together, he's made that chart, too. Raynor, you may raymember, also made the Harry Potter wizards in other movies chart.
HBO recently released a documentary about real-life superheroes. The trailer is below. It reminded me of the fascinating Rolling Stone article about Master Legend, but I can't find it on their site because Rolling Stone doesn't believe the internet needs to see old articles.
Incidentally, I found not 1, but 3 networks for real-life superheroes. 1, 23. But also, hipster superheroes. Hulk is only smashing ironically. And here's a list of all the superheroes. All of them.
Lastly, I'd be remiss not to mention Petsaresuperhero.es, a project I put together with a friend. You know your pet's a superhero, now you can show the world.
Charlie Park takes a look at a type of chart that Edward Tufte developed for his 1983 book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Unlike sparklines, another Tufte invention/coinage, slopegraphs didn't really take off.
It's curious that it hasn't become more popular, as the chart type is quite elegant and aligns with all of Tufte's best practices for data visualization, and was created by the master of information design. Why haven't these charts (christened "slopegraphs" by Tufte about a month ago) taken off the way sparklines did? In this post, we're going to look at slopegraphs -- what they are, how they're made, why they haven't seen a massive uptake so far, and why I think they're about to become much more popular in the near future.
After the publication of Envisioning Information, Tufte decided, he told me, "to be indifferent to culture or history or time." He became increasingly consumed with what he calls "forever knowledge," or the idea that design is meant to guide fundamental cognitive tasks and therefore is rooted in principles that apply regardless of the material being displayed and the technology used to produce it. As Tufte explains it, basic human cognitive questions are universal, which means that design questions should be universal too. "I purposely don't write books with names like How to Design a Web Site or How to Make a Presentation," he told me.
i was watching sense & sensibility in the back of my neighbour's minivan while on a stakeout the other night and realized that professors snape, trelawney, and umbridge had each somehow apparated into the cast. my neighbour (who is a former hogwarts alumna) pointed out that cornelius fudge and madam pomfrey were also in it. was this a record for the most harry potter wizards in a non-harry potter film?
Close but nine Potter wizards is the record...can you guess which movie before clicking through?
With the assistance of a nuclear reactor operator, Randall Munroe came up with this handy radiation dose infographic. Doses recorded near the Fukushima plant compare to those from a single mammogram or dental x-ray. A note on how to use this chart:
If you're basing radiation safety procedures on an internet PNG image and things go wrong, you have no one to blame but yourself.
This interactive chart from the Washington Post shows how the average body mass index has risen in most countries since 1980. The European men getting comparatively heavier than European women (against the general trend of the rest of the world) is interesting.
As you can see in this visualization created by Information is Beautiful, the most commonly used words in horoscopes are amazingly consistent across the twelve different signs. As part of the analysis, they also created a meta-horoscope reading for use anytime during the year:
Ready? Sure? Whatever the situation or secret moment, enjoy everything a lot. Feel able to absolutely care. Expect nothing else. Keep making love. Family and friends matter. The world is life, fun, and energy. Maybe hard. Or easy. Taking exactly enough is best. Help and talk to others. Change your mind and a better mood comes along...
An hour-long documentary on statistics and infoviz produced by the BBC.
Documentary which takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride through the wonderful world of statistics to explore the remarkable power thay have to change our understanding of the world, presented by superstar boffin Professor Hans Rosling, whose eye-opening, mind-expanding and funny online lectures have made him an international internet legend.
That's right, the Washington Monument was the tallest building in the world for about five years before the Eiffel Tower, at almost double the height of the Washington Monument, took over the top spot for more than 40 years. (via modcult)
Pseudovariety -- "the illusion of diversity, concealing a lack of real choice" -- is when you go to the store and see an entire aisle filled with hundreds of different kinds of soda but most of those soda varieties are owned by three companies. Click through to see a neat visualization of soft drink brands and their market shares and owners.
Locals and Tourists is a set of maps showing where people take photos in various cities around the world. The results are broken down into tourist photos and photos taken by locals. Here's NYC:
Blue points on the map are pictures taken by locals (people who have taken pictures in this city dated over a range of a month or more). Red points are pictures taken by tourists (people who seem to be a local of a different city and who took pictures in this city for less than a month).
The NY Times' Paper Cuts blog calls Cartographies of Time "the most beautiful book of the year". I cannot disagree. In attempting to answer the question "how do you draw time?", the authors present page after page of beautiful and clever visual timelines.
Cartographies of Time is the first comprehensive history of graphic representations of time in Europe and the United States from 1450 to the present. Authors Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton have crafted a lively history featuring fanciful characters and unexpected twists and turns. From medieval manuscripts to websites, Cartographies of Time features a wide variety of timelines that in their own unique ways-curving, crossing, branching-defy conventional thinking about the form. A fifty-four-foot-long timeline from 1753 is mounted on a scroll and encased in a protective box. Another timeline uses the different parts of the human body to show the genealogies of Jesus Christ and the rulers of Saxony. Ladders created by missionaries in eighteenth-century Oregon illustrate Bible stories in a vertical format to convert Native Americans. Also included is the April 1912 Marconi North Atlantic Communication chart, which tracked ships, including the Titanic, at points in time rather than by their geographic location, alongside little-known works by famous figures, including a historical chronology by the mapmaker Gerardus Mercator and a chronological board game patented by Mark Twain. Presented in a lavishly illustrated edition, Cartographies of Time is a revelation to anyone interested in the role visual forms have played in our evolving conception of history.
From a study on how people use Firefox, a heat map that highlights the most- and least-popular menu items. Bookmarks got the most use by far, followed by copy and paste. Copy was used about twice as much as paste, which suggests that about 50% of the time, people are copying things to be pasted into another program. Oh and not a single person used "Redo". (via ben fry)
Photographer Michael Najjar took some of his photos from the Andes and turned them into stock market infographics. Here's Lehman Brothers stock price from 1980 to 2008.
Boy, their stock price really fell off a cliff there, didn't it? The rest of the series is worth a look as well, although Najjar's site features the worst use of Flash I've seen in many months...it automatically fullscreens and generally wastes a bunch of time with transitions. To find the rest of the photos, wait until the map starts loading and put your mouse at the bottom of the screen. A menu will s.l.o.w.l.y. slide up...High Altitude is what you're looking for. (via info aesthetics)
This clever graph by National Geographic shows the cost of healthcare compared to life expectancy in a number of countries. The way that the US healthcare expenditure is pictured entirely outside the confines of the graph's scale and legend is a particularly effective design decision. (thx, jim)
This was my present to my nephew for his 3rd birthday. He loves, loves, loves the subway so my sister asked me if I could make a custom map with all the places that mean something to him on the poster.
A very interesting infographic of the ideological history of the Supreme Court from 1937 to the present. The color coding on the map is weirdly inaccurate but you can still be general trends pretty well...like how many of the justices changed greatly during their terms. William O. Douglas became slightly more moderate mid-term and then got really liberal while Rehnquist went from very conservative to more moderate as his term went on, especially after he became Chief Justice.
Update: Alex Lundry designed the visualization and got in touch to explain the color coding.
The colors are chosen based upon the Min, Max, and Median of the area we are comparing. So, in the first view, the "overall" view, the darkest Red is anchored to the maximum ideology number across all justices and all terms, the darkest Blue is anchored to the minimum score, and the purest white is anchored to the actual median number (The Location of the Median Justice is NOT necessarily the actual median, as it is calculated via a Bayesian statistical estimate).
The second "compare" option, "within each seat, row" calculates separate color anchors for each row.
Similarly, the third compare option, "within each year, column" calculates separate color anchors for each column.
The Location of Median Justice and Court Average are not included in these calculations and their color values are set to what they would be in the overall comparison.
The style of infographics follow the general design created by Javier Errea: no fireworks, modern, compact, with cromatic impact but smart. And the Innovation spirit: "newspapers must be daily magazines", as Juan Antonio Giner says.
The Indianapolis Star did a really nice car tracker for the Indianapolis 500. Just push play and watch the race unfold. I was struck by how few changes in position there were...you'd think people would be passing each other all the time but that's just not the case. (thx, nathan)
By Meg Pickard, a graph of the lifespan of Twitter trending topics compares "people talking about #topic" and "people talking about talking about #topic". Outside of Twitter, this applies to pretty much any popular newsworthy topic...the news quickly moves from "we're telling you about Topic X" to media coverage of the media coverage of Topic X. See: Twitter's own coverage in the media currently. (thx, @ davidfg )
The result, after much whacking, is, I think, compelling, but you'll have to see for yourself. The general idea it that the history of subway ridership tells a story about the history of a neighborhood that is much richer than the overall trend. An example, below, shows the wild comeback of inner Williamsburg, and how the growth decays at each successive stop away from Manhattan on the L train.
When confronted with an incomprehensible language, an English speaker might say "it's all Greek to me" while a French or Finnish speaker might say that it sounds like Hebrew. Here's a flowchart that illustrates the different incomprehensibility relationships (discussion here). The most stereotypical incomprehensible language appears to be Chinese. (via strange maps)
You may remember reading the New Yorker article on Garrett Lisi, a surfer, physicist, and snowboarder who came out of nowhere in 2007 to present a plausible Theory of Everything, "a unifying idea that aims to incorporate all the universe's forces in a single mathematical framework". I do but I missed this visualization of Lisi's theory posted by New Scientist in late 2007. You may want to break out the bong for this one. (thx, matt)
For three years, from '36 to '38, Shirley Temple was the country's top box-office star, and then Mickey Rooney had the title from '39 to '41. (And then it was Abbott & Costello.) Imagine. Temple and Rooney knew how to entertain, for sure, but the last thing you could call moviegoers back then, to judge by their six-year reign, was urbane or sophisticated.
My opinion of Songsmith is shifting -- while it's generally presented as a laughingstock, catastrophic failure, or if nothing else, a complete embarrassment (especially for its developers slash infomercial actors), it's really caught the imagination of a lot of people who are creating new things, even if all of them subvert the original intent of the project. (Where the original intent was to... create a tool that would help write a jingle for glow in the dark towels?)
Dopplr is doing 2008 personal annual reports for all their users that shows "data, visualisations and factoids" about their 2008 travel. They've also done one for Barack Obama on his behalf that you can download for free. Obama took a whopping 234 trips in 2008 and traveled 92% of the distance to the moon!
The goal of the creators of The Big Chart, The Counter-Intuitive Comparison Institute of North America (CICINA), is to find the single best thing in the world through an NCAA basketball tournament-style bracketing system. This video explains their plans.
Is the Bilbao Guggenheim better than McDonald's french fries?Are penguins better than Miracle Grow? Can anything beat heated seats on a cold November day?
Earlier this evening, I needed to take some coins that had been piling up to the Coinstar machine. Before I left, I uploaded a photo of the coin bags to Flickr and queried the masses: how much money in the bags?
In 1906 Galton visited a livestock fair and stumbled upon an intriguing contest. An ox was on display, and the villagers were invited to guess the animal's weight after it was slaughtered and dressed. Nearly 800 gave it a go and, not surprisingly, not one hit the exact mark: 1,198 pounds. Astonishingly, however, the median of those 800 guesses came close -- very close indeed. It was 1,208 pounds.
Nate Silver I am not, but after some rudimentary statistical analysis on the coin guesses, it was clear that the mean ($193.88) and median ($171.73) were both way off from the actual value ($426.55). That scatterplot is brutal...there are only a handful of guesses in the right area. But the best guess by a single individual was just 76 cents off.
To be fair, the crowd was likely misinformed. It's difficult to tell from that photo how fat those bags were -- they were bulging -- and how many quarters there were.
This seems to speak of why so many on the right feel there's a MSM bias - 50% of the country is urban, 50% rural, but newspapers are located exclusively in urban areas. So, surprisingly, the major right-leaning papers are all located in parts of the country we consider highly leftish. The urban areas that are the largest are thus both the most liberal and the most likely to have a sizeable conservative target audience.