How Spending Changed for Different Income Groups

I compared spending in 1996 against the most recent spending estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Read More

Introducing a New Course on Mapping Geographic Data in R, with ggplot2

I’m happy to announce a new course on mapping geographic data in R, using the ggplot2 package. The course is by data journalist and visualization consultant Maarten Lambrechts, and it’s available immediately to FlowingData members.

If you’re not a member yet, now is a great time to join. You get instant access to this course, plus four others and over a hundred in-depth visualization tutorials.

For those who’ve read FlowingData for a while probably know that I’m not much of ggplot2 user. It’s not that I don’t like it. I just never worked it into my workflow, and what I’m using now hasn’t stalled my work yet.

But when it comes to visualizing data, I’m a firm believer in learning a wide array of tools. A flexible toolset lets you visualize data in the way that you want. The tool shouldn’t be the limiting factor.

Hence, this course.

I worked through the course myself, and I’ll tell you first-hand that it’s fun, practical, and will get you up to speed quick. There’s real data, concrete examples, and you’ll be making beautiful maps with your own data in no time.

Check it out now.

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How that iceberg would really float

A common depiction of an iceberg is one that has a short head peeking out of the water and a deep spike underneath. However, as Megan Thompson-Munson pointed out, that’s not how icebergs actually float. Because physics.

Inspired by Thompson-Munson’s comment, Joshua Tauberer made Iceberger, which is a fun interactive that lets you draw an iceberg of your own and the shape floats accordingly.

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Bird flight patterns captured through long-exposure photography

For several years, Xavi Bou has been using long-exposure photography to capture stills of bird flight patterns. The project, Ornitographies, produced gloriously abstract images. There’s also a video (above) piece under the same premise.

Jessica McKenzie, reporting for Audubon:

More recently, Bou has expanded the project to video, including one called Murmurations that shows a flock of starlings evading a hawk. “What happens is, if in this moment a hawk appears to attack them, it’s when they do this dance,” he says. “The hawk is like carving this ephemeral sculpture that’s in the air.” As with the still images, Bou knit multiple series of photographs together to create an animation. He estimates that every day of filming requires two weeks of post-production work; for Murmurations, he also enlisted the help of a film editor. The final product, which was filmed in southern Catalonia, was then set to ethereal music.

The video deserves the full-screen treatment.

See also the swallows of essex by Dennis Hlynsky.

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Simulation for different immunity scenarios

As vaccinations roll out, we work towards herd immunity, there are various challenges to consider along the way. Thomas Wilburn and Richard Harris, reporting for NPR, used simulations to imagine three scenarios: a more infectious variant of the coronavirus, high initial immunity, and low initial immunity.

Since it’s a simulation it of course doesn’t consider every real-life detail of immunity and viral spread, but the animations and the hexagon grids provide a good overhead view.

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Simulation for different immunity scenarios

As vaccinations roll out, we work towards herd immunity, there are various challenges to consider along the way. Thomas Wilburn and Richard Harris, reporting for NPR, used simulations to imagine three scenarios: a more infectious variant of the coronavirus, high initial immunity, and low initial immunity.

Since it’s a simulation it of course doesn’t consider every real-life detail of immunity and viral spread, but the animations and the hexagon grids provide a good overhead view.

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✚ More Colors vs. Fewer Colors – The Process 127

The two approaches answer two different questions. Read More

Sim Daltonism, an intuitive app that simulates color blindness

When we visualize data to communicate to others, we must consider what others see through their eyes. Sim Daltonism by Michel Fortin is a free app for the Mac that lets you see how those with various types of color blindness perceive what’s on your computer screen.

It’s simple to use. Just drag a window over any part of your screen to see the differences.

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Low temperatures map of the United States

Based on data from the Global Forecast System, The New York Times mapped the lowest temperatures across the country between February 14 and 16.

The blue-orange color scale diverges at freezing, which creates a striking image of a very cold country. The dotted lines and temperature labels make the patterns especially obvious.

As someone who lives in an orange area, I was shocked by all of the blue. Stay safe.

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R graphics get modern text support, with ragg package

Thomas Lin Pedersen announced the ragg package, which makes font usage in R more straightforward:

I’m extremely pleased to present the culmination of several years of work spanning the systemfonts, textshaping, and ragg packages. These releases complete our efforts to create a high-quality, performant raster graphics device that works the same way on every operating system.

This blog post presents our improvements to ragg’s font rendering so that it now “just works” regardless of what you throw at it. This includes:

  1. Support for non-Latin scripts including Right-to-Left (RtL) scripts
  2. Support for OpenType features such as ligatures, glyph substitutions, etc.
  3. Support for color fonts
  4. Support for font fallback

All of the above comes in addition to the fact that ragg is able to use all of your installed fonts.

If you’ve tried to make publication-level graphics completely in R, you’re probably familiar with the challenge of using non-default fonts. The correct steps depend on your system and the words you want to add. It’s one of the reasons I bring R output into Adobe Illustrator, so now there’s one less extra step. Nice.

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