Tag Archives: infoviz

Election Season Infographics

I’ve seen a lot of visual display of quantitative information in the news lately, and I like that. But I’ve seen a lot of ink used for more style than substance, and that bugs me, especially when the point is stronger with more substance.

In Exhibit A, I draw your attention to the graphic from last week’s NYTimes front page article Top Corporations Aid U.S. Chamber of Commerce Campaign. The graphic on the web differs slightly from online, but both obscure the point: conservative groups are drastically outspending their rivals in the current election cycle.

A casual observer might miss this though, because of the stylish way the data is represented as red and blue squares, each standing on edge. The artfully arbitrary spacing between the overlapping squares makes it even harder to interpret.

Here’s my remix:

With a pro designer to work this over, the NYTimes could have a sexy front page infographic that’s meaningful, too. Look at that: among the top ten organizations, conservative spending is two times liberal. And if you pull out the “party spenders”, i.e. NRCC, NRSC, DCCC, DSCC, then conservatives are spending five times more. A picture is worth a large number of words, but we should still make them mean something.

I have another remix to share… actually, this is the one that got me to make some graphs of my own. Seeing misleading areas in print once a week, that I can stand, but when I was reading up on Washington State’s “Tax the Ultra-Rich” ballot initiative and I saw it again this morning… well, you’re reading the results.

Behold Exhibit B:

In this case, there is no pretense that the pyramid slabs mean something about the number of returns that they represent. They’re not even separate slabs, take a look at the top. This pyramid is metaphorical, and it does have a nice color scheme.

But why not make an actual plot? Again, if you get a professional designer to work it over, it can have nice fonts and margins and all, but doesn’t my remix below get the point across better?

Here’s some code if you want to remix my remix.

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Filed under statistics

Random Graphs in NetworkX: My Spatial-Temporal Preferred Attachment Diversion

To take my mind off my meetings, I spent a little time modifying the Spatial Preferred Attachment model from Aiello, Bonato, Cooper, Janssen, and Prałat’s paper A Spatial Web Graph Model with Local Influence Regions so that it changes over time. Continue reading

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Filed under combinatorics, probability

haiti.ushihidi by category

What people are saying now: Water shortage, food shortage, medical equiptment needed.  What they are not saying as much anymore: Food, shelter, search and rescue.

(data details in previous post.)

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Filed under combinatorial optimization, global health

Florence Nightingale: Health Metrics Pioneer

Diagram of the causes of mortality of the army in the east

Nightingale's Coxcomb


Science News recently ran an article on the health statistics work and data visualization work of Florence Nightingale.  It’s fun for me to learn about this history, since I am such a recent immigrant to the land of health metrics. Nice quotes from Nightingale’s statistical mentor in the piece, too:

You complain that your report would be dry.  The dryer the better. Statistics should be the dryest of all reading.

The graphics in the Science News article are from an educational project of the Statistics Lab at the University of Cambridge called Understanding Uncertainty. It seems like Nightingale’s coxcomb it is a well debated form of infoviz over at the Edward Tufte Discussion Board.

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Filed under global health