How America Uses Its Land

We just came across a really engaging graphics feature by Bloomberg.com. How America Uses Its Land, by Dave Merrill and Lauren Leatherby. It’s well sourced and nicely designed. As the intro states, “The 48 contiguous states alone are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle of cities, farms, forests and pastures that Americans use to feed themselves, power their economy and extract value for business and pleasure.” There are quite a few surprises for the reader, such as the massive amount of land used as cow pasture/range (see map above). 41 percent of U.S. land in the contiguous states is used as pasture or cropland used to produce feed.

Here is the overall distribution of land uses:

Forest and timberland take another large chuck of the space. Did you know a company called Weyerhauser Co. owns or controls an area of timberland equivalent to the size of West Virginia?

 

 

Data graphics for the Inter-American Development Bank

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is the largest source for development financing for LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean) countries. Founded in 1959 and based in Washington DC, IDB produces regular reports on trade, economic integration, poverty and social inequalities reduction, environmental sustainability and other issues.

We recently started collaborating with IDB with some data graphics on trade integration. The LAC countries have extensive trade gaps and missing links (countries or areas without preferential trade agreements). The chart above highlights bilateral trade links between countries missing the advantage of preferential trade agreements. It’s a redesign of the graphic below, an “spaghetti map” which we found hard to follow. We used a more rational geometric design (the real geography doesn’t help here), and different weights/colors depending on the amount of trade to establish hierarchy and visual clarity.

There are multiple, small size trade agreements in the area but the goal is a region-wide Free Trade Agreement (LAC-FTA) that is able to compete in the global scene. The graphic below shows the size of the proposed agreement compared to other large trade agreements in the world, and to the economies or other countries and the world as a whole.

And the graphic below also refers to the lacks of agreements between different regions and countries in the area, this time as a grid. The empty spaces are the focus of interest here.

To know more about the issue, you can download the recent IDB publication here in English, Spanish or Portuguese (this version doesn’t include our graphics):

Connecting the Dots: A Road Map for a Better Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (© 2018 Inter-American Development Bank, Integration and Trade Sector)

 

New book: Practical Tableau

Anyone interested in data visualization with Tableau should take note of a new book being published this month: Practical Tableau — 100 Tips, Tutorials, and Strategies from a Tableau Zen, by Ryan Sleeper (published by O’Reilly). The book is a comprehensive and useful overview that can be used by complete beginners as well as by people with more advanced skills. Structured as a collection of 100 short “tip” chapters, it has multiple step-by-step tutorials to build a broad variety of chart types and introductions to working with filters, parameters, calculated fields, and other advanced options in Tableau. It also outlines principles of storytelling with data, using color, dashboards, etc. Overall, it’s an eminently practical guide that I can easily recommend (another great Tableau guide is this book by Ben Jones).

During our 5W Academy workshops (next in Washington D.C. and San Francisco), we do a few hands-on exercises with Tableau. It’s a powerful and intuitive drag and drop tool to build data visualizations.

Tableau has some shortcomings: a couple of examples are the less than optimal handling of responsiveness for different screen sizes, or the lack of map projections (although Tableau now works with spatial files such as shapefiles, GeoJSON, KML, etc.). And it’s a closed system. For simple charts/maps and limited datasets many users maybe be better served by using Datawrapper, Flourish or other recent and excellent open-source dataviz tools for non-developers, but Tableau’s robust and comprehensive data analysis capabilities still make it a preferred tool in many organizations. As an example, the United Nations just announced it’s adopting Tableau as their visual analytics standard across its multiples agencies.

Practical Tableau is due to be released this month as a paperback, and the Kindle version is already available.

 

 

Our Power of Infographics workshop, back in Singapore in May

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I’ll be back in Singapore on May 24-25 teaching a new edition of the 2-day workshop “The Power of Infographics” organized by Methodology. Fortunately, the workshop has continued to be in high demand and is nearing the 10th edition since 2015.

Methodology was co-founded by two of the most talented designers in Singapore: Brian Ling of Design Sojourn and Jackson Tan of Black Design and contemporary art collective Phunk. It organizes public and corporate workshops in Singapore and the rest of South East Asia. “We believe that design can make a positive difference to the world and we seek to be custodians of this change by curating and sharing the world’s best creative ideas and design processes. We collaborate with global leaders at the forefront of design, craft and innovation to develop education programs, workshops, conferences and media.”

The workshop is attended by a mix of professionals including designers, marketers, students, and civil servants from different areas of the government. They are looking for an introduction to visual storytelling and the principles, tools and techniques to find visual insight in our content by using infographics, charts, maps and data visualization (both in print and online).

Register here or contact Methodology at admin@methodology.sg for more information.

Zones of noninfluence, new map for Foreign Policy magazine

“Well over a year into U.S. President Donald Trump’s tenure, the State Department is in disarray”, says the latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine. Dozen of key positions, including 38 ambassadorships, remain unfilled. In filled positions, many are political appointees rather than career diplomats. And former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was recently fired by the President. Our map for the April issue of Foreign Policy shows the status of American ambassadorships around the world, highlighting the most conspicuous absences such as Mexico, Saudi Arabia, North Korea or the European Union. We worked with Chief Creative Officer Adam Griffiths on this project.

 

SND Infographics Summit and workshop in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is hosting a great infographics summit next week. The event is organized by the Society for News Design (SND) in collaboration with the award-winning infographics team of the South China Morning Post, undoubtely one of the best news graphics teams in the world with their great combination of illustrated infographics and data visualization.

I was planning on attending right before my next workshop in Singapore, but unfortunately my dates have moved (now I’ll be in Singapore on May 24-25)

The SND Hong Kong event is hosted by the prestigious Journalism and Media Studies Centre of the University of Hong Kong (HKU). I taught a workshop in Shanghai’s location of HKU a few years back, they have excellent Journalism programs.

The event starts on April 13 with a one-day series of conferences. The list of speakers includes representatives from many of organizations creating the best news graphics in Asia, such as the South China Morning Post, Bloomberg, Reuters, AFP, The Wall Street Journal and more, and other panelist of the caliber of Javier Errea from Errea Comunicacion and Alberto Lucas from National Geographic. See the full agenda here.

The summit will be followed by a two-day workshops at HKU. Attendees will visit selected sites on Hong Kong Island to develop a visual story, guided by the South China Morning Post infographics team. The workshop is already sold out.

Let’s hope this initiative becomes a regular event in the infographics calendar!

 

 

 

Workshop for Mediacorp in Singapore

I was in Singapore a few days ago teaching a 2-day workshop on Interactive Infographics and Data Visualization for the staff of Mediacorp. The course was organized by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

Mediacorp is the largest media broadcaster in Singapore with multiple radio and television channels (including its flagship Channel NewsAsia, one of the main TV news channels in the world), as well as digital news sites. It’s the main media company in the country along with Singapore Press Holding (SPH), the publisher of Straits Times.

Mediacorp stopped printing its newspaper Today last year and is now entirely focused on digital content, training its news staff to adapt to digital storytelling. Over the two days of the workshop, conducted at the gleaming new Mediacorp campus, teams for digital news in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil language focused on different forms of digital storytelling through infographics and dataviz. We looked at animations and storyboarding, designing graphics for smartphones, concepts of interactivity and navigation in different platforms, graphics in social media, trends in the field, tools of the trade and more. The course involves plenty of hand-sketching to invite participants to focus on brainstorming and analyzing different approaches to telling a story, rather than on software use. But we also had a chance to do some hands-on work creating online data visualizations with free tools that require no coding skills such as Tableau Public and Flourish.

Our next workshops will be in Washington D.C. (April 26-27) and San Francisco (May 10-11)

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