The rise and plummet of the name Heather

Hey, no one told me that baby name analysis was back in fashion. Dan Kopf for Quartz, using data from the Social Security Administration, describes the downfall of the name Heather. It exhibited the sharpest decline of all names since 1880.

Talking to Laura Wattenberg:

Wattenberg says the rise and fall of Heather is exemplary of the faddish nature of American names. “When fashion is ready for a name, even a tiny spark can make it take off,” she says. “Heather climbed gradually into popularity through the 1950s and ’60s, then took its biggest leap in 1969, a year that featured a popular Disney TV movie called Guns in the Heather. A whole generation of Heathers followed, at which point Heather became a ‘mom name’ and young parents pulled away.”

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✚ Chart Components and Working On Your Graphics Piece-wise

Before you can form a set of steps to visualize data, you need to know the components of a chart that you can separate. Like making an outline for an essay, you look for sections that make sense rather than define how many periods and question marks you need to show. Once you can form that data graphics outline, that complex visualization project doesn't seem so daunting. Read More

Judging connectedness of American communities, based on Facebook friendships

We talk about geographic bubbles a lot these days. Some areas are isolated, in their own bubble. Other areas seem more connected. Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui for The Upshot looked at this geographic connectedness through the lens of Facebook friendships.

In the millions of ties on Facebook that connect relatives, co-workers, classmates and friends, Americans are far more likely to know people nearby than in distant communities that share their politics or mirror their demographics. The dominant picture in data analyzed by economists at Facebook, Harvard, Princeton and New York University is not that like-minded places are linked; rather, people in counties close to one another are.

There are two main parts to the piece. The first one is a county map that you can mouse over to see the likelihood of friendship with those in other counties. The second part imagines a country split up into regions based on Facebook connections. Be sure to catch them both.

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Watch rising river levels after Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence brought a lot of rain, which in turn made river levels rise. The New York Times animated the rise over a five-day period. The height of the bars represents the rise of the river level, as compared to levels on Thursday.

I like the visual metaphor of bars going up with river levels. I’m not sure the sudden rise and falls in such short periods of time would appear as surprising.

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Cuisine Ingredients

What are the ingredients that make each cuisine? I looked at 40,000 recipes spanning 20 cuisines and 6,714 ingredients to see what makes food taste different. Read More

Changing size analogies and the trends of everyday things

When you try to describe the size of something but don’t have an exact measurement, you probably compare it to an everyday object that others can relate to. Using the Google Books Ngram dataset, Colin Morris looked for how such comparisons changed over the past few centuries.

I especially like the bits of history to explain why some words fell into and out of fashion.

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Endangered species that could fit in a train car

There are endangered species where the remaining few in the world could fit on a single car train. Mona Chalabi for The Guardian imagined such a scenario.

Usually when we talk about scale and putting numbers into perspective, it’s about imagining the large ones. What does a million look like? A billion? Chalabi’s illustrations take it the other direction.

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3-D view inside Typhoon Mangkhut

Typhoon Mangkhut went through the northern end of the Phillipines a few days ago. At least 25 people died. The New York Times provides a scrolling 3-dimensional view using data collected by NASA satellites.

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My chat with Data Stories

I talked with Moritz and Enrico on Data Stories, my favorite visualization podcast. They’ve been providing a healthy balance of practice and research since 2012.

I don’t dare listen to myself, but based on the show notes we talked about FlowingData over the years, some of the changes in visualization, and answered listener questions. You can listen here.