✚ Visualization Tools and Learning Resources, November 2022 Roundup

Welcome to the 216th issue of The Process. I’m Nathan Yau, and I’m recovering from turkey- and starch-filled Thanksgiving eats. As it should be. Every month I collect tools and resources to help make better charts. Here’s the good stuff for November.

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Upward mobility through a personal lens

Aaron Williams, for The Pudding, shows upward mobility through his own experiences, moving as a child from a low-income city to a higher-income city.

It’s unclear what my mom meant by “better opportunities.” Still, I got the gist that it was about the socioeconomic measures think tanks, policymakers and researchers use to measure progress: education, housing and income.

I thought, “can I actually measure if moving made a difference?” Indeed, your environment impacts your future outcomes, but to what extent?

I like the nod to W.E.B. Du Bois through style and geometry.

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On the Data Journalism Podcast

I had a short chat with Alberto Cairo and Simon Rogers on The Data Journalism Podcast. They talk to people about data journalism. It’s a podcast. Thanks to Alberto and Simon for having me and luring me out of my bubble.

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Illustration of ranked-choice voting

Connie Hanzhang Jin and Kaitlyn Radde, for NPR, used illustrations to explain how ranked-choice voting works. Instead of picking a single candidate, you can rank your choices, and if someone does not win outright, the rankings kick in.

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Republican and Democrat follower counts on Twitter

You might have heard that Elon Musk bought Twitter, and among the many recent changes to the platform comes what appears to be an ideology shift. Gerrit De Vynck, Jeremy B. Merrill and Luis Melgar, for The Washington Post, show the shift through the lens of a baseline chart and follower counts among popular Democrats and Republicans.

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Building a happy life, interpreted through data

How to Build a Happy Life from The Atlantic is a podcast on finding happiness:

In our pursuit of a happy life, we build, we structure, and we plan. Often, we follow conventional wisdom and strategize. But what happens when our plans fall through and expectations don’t meet reality—when the things that should make us happy don’t?

In season 3 of our How To series, Atlantic happiness correspondent Arthur Brooks and producer Rebecca Rashid seek to navigate the unexpected curves on the path to personal happiness—with data-driven insights and a healthy dose of introspection.

I’m late to this, but I had some downtime during the Thanksgiving break and liked the data- and research-centric episodes. As you might expect, there’s a lot of fuzziness in the numbers and there’s more than one way to find happiness.

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Depth of the underwater Tonga volcano

Mark Doman and Alex Palmer, for ABC News, show the depth of the Tonga volcano that erupted earlier this year with a 3-D model. “While the depth of the caldera shocked him, the fact the rest of the volcano appeared to be largely unchanged was equally as surprising.”

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Experimental Noisycharts sonifies data for improved accessibility

Nick Evershed, for The Guardian, describes Noisycharts, an experimental component for their in-house charting tool:

What does rising global carbon dioxide sound like? Or the crash of the pound? How about Sydney’s record-breaking rainfall, or the share value wiped out following Facebook’s pivot to virtual reality?

While all of these things have been frequently graphed, now we can turn them into audio as well.

Noisycharts is a new tool created by Guardian Australia to easily turn data into sound, with an animation to accompany it.

One of the examples uses a modulated dog bark to demonstrate how the sounds can match with the context. That seems like a fun path to explore.

Unfortunately, it’s not meant for public use (yet?). For that, you might want to check out TwoTone.

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Decline of key changes in popular music

Chris Dalla Riva analyzed key changes in songs that made the Billboard Hot 100, between 1958 and 2022. Key changes are near non-existent after 2010. The most interesting part is why:

Thus, if you changed the key of “Juicy,” Biggie wouldn’t necessarily have to change how he raps, but if you changed the key of “Over the Rainbow,” Judy Garland would have to sing different pitches. If you picked the wrong key, those pitches might be outside of her vocal range. In short, key doesn’t matter as much in hip-hop.

As hip-hop grew in popularity, the use of computers in recording also exploded too. Whereas the guitar and piano lend themselves to certain keys, the computer is key-agnostic. If I record a song in the key of C major into digital recording software, like Logic or ProTools, and then decide I don’t like that key, I don’t have to play it again in that new key. I can just use my software to shift it into that different key. I’m no longer constrained by my instrument.

See also the increasing similarity of Billboard songs.

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Shifts in European energy sources

Mira Rojanasakul, for The New York Times, dug into current and historical energy sources in Europe. With the war in Ukraine, Russia cut off natural gas supplies to other countries, but based on estimates from Ember, it looks like the biggest shifts recently are in other energy categories.

Monthly line charts are used for each country and energy source. Lines for previous years rest in the background in a light gray to serve as a point of comparison, whereas the lines for 2022 sit in the front with a bolder color and thicker width to indicate the point of interest.

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