Serena Williams’ career rankings

Serena Williams announced her retirement from professional tennis. As is required for any milestone by a great athlete, a step chart from The New York Times shows her world ranking over time.

I like the focus on the higher rankings, which is fitting for the occasion, and dotted lines that indicate the smaller chunks of time Williams ranked below 20.

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Indicators for a recession

People disagree whether the United States is in a recession or not, because there isn’t a generalized formula you can just plug some numbers into. Instead, the translation of of many economic indicators to a binary definition is more complicated. For The Washington Post, Alyssa Fowers and Kevin Schaul report on work from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

A set of baseline charts show how indicators currently compare to past recessions. Things feels worse, but some indicators show better days. The pandemic, surprise, makes these current times more of a challenge to define.

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More friendships between rich and poor might mean less poverty

Recently published in Nature, research by Chetty, R., Jackson, M.O., Kuchler, T. et al. suggests that economic connectedness, or friendships between rich and poor, could improve economic mobility. The researchers used Facebook connection data from 70.3 million users, along with demographic and income data. NYT’s The Upshot explains the relationships with a collection of maps and charts.

You can find an anonymized, aggregated version of the data through the Social Capital Atlas. Also, I am very much into this socially-focused use of social media data.

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Housing displacement after disasters

Christopher Flavelle, for The New York Times, reported on the lack of support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for those who were displaced by natural disasters. Area charts by Mira Rojanasakul show how much the support has been lagging.

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Florence Nightingale’s use of data visualization to persuade in the 19th century

For Scientific American, RJ Andrews looks back at the visualization work of Florence Nightingale:

Recognizing that few people actually read statistical tables, Nightingale and her team designed graphics to attract attention and engage readers in ways that other media could not. Their diagram designs evolved over two batches of publications, giving them opportunities to react to the efforts of other parties also jockeying for influence. These competitors buried stuffy graphic analysis inside thick books. In contrast, Nightingale packaged her charts in attractive slim folios, integrating diagrams with witty prose. Her charts were accessible and punchy. Instead of building complex arguments that required heavy work from the audience, she focused her narrative lens on specific claims. It was more than data visualization—it was data storytelling.

Be sure to also check out Andrews’ upcoming book on Nightingale, which is one part of a three-part series.

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Visualizing Delaunay Triangulation

Delaunay triangulations have applications in computer graphics, spatial analysis, and visualization. They “maximize the minimum of all the angles of the triangles in the triangulation.” Ian Henry explains them much better with visual demos aplenty:

So those are like… some good reasons to learn about Delaunay triangulations.

But I did not learn about Delaunay triangulations for a good reason.

I learned about Delaunay triangulations for the dumbest reason you can possibly imagine.

That’s how you know it’s gonna be good.

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Timelines for record temperatures

Speaking of the heat wave in Europe, Pierre Breteau for Le Monde charted record high temperatures using a step chart for each weather station in France:

These graphs represent, for a part of the 146 stations for which Météo-France provided us with the data, the level of the most extreme temperatures ever recorded and their date.

The data are fragmentary because it is difficult to go back beyond the 1990’s, or even the August 2003 heat wave, and only those with a historical record of at least 20 years are shown below.

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Rhythm in plant cells

Researchers are studying the electrical rhythms in plant cells. I’m not sure what that means exactly or what they’re measuring, but it sounds fun.

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Full scope of gun deaths in the U.S.

As I’m sure you know, mass shootings, which gain attention because the scale of their severity is so high, make up only a fraction of total gun deaths. Several tens of thousands of people die from gun shots every year in the U.S. The Washington Post describes the full scope, covering purchases, restrictions, race, and geography.

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Data Visualization Humble Bundle

There’s a data visualization book bundle on Humble Bundle this month. Get twenty-two books for eighteen dollars — with a portion of the proceeds going to Girls Who Code. Seems like a pretty good deal.

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