Using the FiveThirtyEight model, see how the election odds shift with different scenarios

With each model update, FiveThirtyEight runs 40,000 simulations, or what-ifs, to calculate the odds for who will win the election. Their new interactive lets you experiment with all of the what-ifs to see how the odds shift when a candidate wins a state.

It answers the question, “If ______ wins in ______ and in ______, etc., what are the chances of him winning the whole thing?”

So if Trump wins a very red state or Biden wins a very blue state, the overall odds don’t change that much. But if a very red goes blue, or a very blue goes red, then the odds swing dramatically.

There’s a good lesson on conditional probability somewhere in there.

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Making map art in R

If you can make maps in your software and customize the aesthetics, you can make map art. Esteban Moro outlined how he made a personalized map in R:

For my map art, I wanted to create something more personal: a combination of those beautiful street maps with personal mobility. That is, the city and how we navigate it. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create those street maps for your city and your mobility. We will use data from Open Street Maps (OSM) and, of course, R. We will also use personal mobility data, which you can input manually. Still, we will learn too how to get it from Google Maps Timeline (if you have your location activated). Part of the material here is based on the tutorial by Christian Burkhart.

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Tips for not letting polls and forecasts occupy your mind for two weeks

For FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver provides tips to stay less stressed staring into the darkness known at election forecasts:

This is perhaps the single piece of advice we give most often at FiveThirtyEight, but it’s especially important in the final couple weeks of a campaign. After a lull this weekend, there are likely to be a lot of polls the rest of the way out. On any given day, it will be possible to take the two or three best polls for Biden and tell a story of his holding or expanding his lead, or the two or three best polls for Trump and make a claim that the race is tightening.

Resist buying too much into those narratives.

Good luck.

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Interactive data essays on climate change

In their second issue, Parametric Press focuses on climate change with a set of interactive data essays:

The articles explore the gamut of our climate’s past, present, and future, exploring not only what has happened (and is happening) but also what should happen, and what we as citizens should do to realize that future. In this issue you will find a personalized history of Earth’s CO2 record, a close look at disturbances in the floodplains in the Mekong Delta, an analysis of how YouTube and other digital streaming services impact the environment, along with critiques on potential carbon sequestration methods and an exploration of the corporations that are most responsible for getting us to where we are today.

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Data visualization in virtual reality

Virtual reality puts you in a digital world that can feel like a real world when it’s done right. Research from Benjamin Lee, et al. explored some of the possibilities in work they’re calling data visceralation.

As a proof of concept, shown in the video above, the researchers recreated popular works for virtual reality. Watch Olympic runners sprint past you or look up at the comparison of the world’s tallest buildings.

The goal is essentially to make the abstract shapes or data points feel more real. Looks promising.

By the way, this work is going to be presented at VIS 2020, which will be virtual and free to attend this year. If you’re interested in poking your head in, but don’t know where to start, Robert Kosara wrote an outsider’s guide to the conference to point you in the right direction.

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More fire weather days coming

It’s been smoky this season. Based on research from Michael Goss et al., Al Shaw and Elizabeth Weil for ProPublica look at the current fire situation in California and what that might mean for the future and the rest of the country.

In wildfires, as with flooding and heat, climate change doesn’t create novel problems; it exacerbates existing problems and compounds risks. So there is no precise way to measure how much of all this increased wildfire activity is due to climate change. An educated guess is about half, experts say. Its role, however, is growing fast. Within 20 years, climate change promises to be the dominant factor driving larger and more frequent megafires — not only in California, but across the country.

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Using estimates from a report by the Well Being Trust and the Robert Graham Center, Periscopic shows projected deaths of despair in Lifelines.

Lights, each representing a life, float above the water, and as you adjust levels of mental health care, employment, and social connection, the lives either sink to the bottom or stay above the water. How do we keep as many as we can above water?

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✚ The Process 111 – Excel Limit

A row limit in Microsoft Excel led to an undercount of Covid-19 cases in the thousands. The root of the problem goes past the software though. Read More

Covid-19 cases and state partisanship

From Dan Goodspeed, the bar chart race is back. The length of the bars represents Covid-19 case rates per state, and color represents partisanship. The animation currently starts on June 1 and runs through October 13. It plays out how most of us probably assumed at some level or another.

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Visual tour through the technology hype cycle

The Gartner hype cycle is a graphical representation of where certain technologies are at in terms of expectations and productivity. It’s abstract and qualitative. But Mark Mine looked at 25 years worth of cycles to see how things have changed in a more quantitative fashion.

Mine made his dataset available here.

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