Infrared to show air particles from your talk hole

I’m sure you know this already, but just in case, air particles come out of your mouth when you talk, cough, etc. The Washington Post used an infrared camera to demonstrate:

To visually illustrate the risk of airborne transmission in real time, The Washington Post used an infrared camera made by the company FLIR Systems that is capable of detecting exhaled breath. Numerous experts — epidemiologists, virologists and engineers — supported the notion of using exhalation as a conservative proxy to show potential transmission risk in various settings.

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Mapping 250,000 people

As we’ve talked about before, it can be hard to really understand the scale of big numbers. So when we hear that over 250,000 people died because of the coronavirus, it can be hard to conceptualize that number in our head. Lauren Tierney and Tim Meko for The Washington Post provide a point of comparison by highlighting counties that have have populations under 250,000.

Whole counties, or whole clusters of counties, that would be completely wiped out.

It’s a lot.

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Votes that won the presidency

Voter turnout this election was higher than it’s been in a long time, but the winner margins were still small. Alyssa Fowers, Atthar Mirza and Armand Emamdjomeh for The Washington Post showed the margins with dots. Each circle represents 3,000 votes, and the blue and red circles represent by how much the candidate won by in a given state.

The dots showing absolute counts are useful to see the scale of each win, which percentages don’t capture.

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Student surveillance and online proctoring

To combat cheating during online exams, many schools have utilized services that try to detect unusual behavior through webcam video. As with most automated surveillance systems, there are some issues. For The Washington Post, Drew Harwell looks into the social implications of student surveillance:

Fear of setting off the systems’ alarms has led students to contort themselves in unsettling ways. Students with dark skin have shined bright lights at their face, worrying the systems wouldn’t recognize them. Other students have resorted to throwing up in trash cans.

Some law students who took New York’s first online bar exam last month, a 90-minute test proctored by the company ExamSoft, said they had urinated in their chairs because they weren’t allowed to leave their computers, according to a survey by two New York state lawmakers pushing to change the rules for licensing new attorneys during the pandemic.


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Swings in the battleground states

For The Washington Post, Ashlyn Still and Ted Mellnik show the shifts in the 2020 election compared against the 2012 and 2016 elections. Good use of swooping arrows.

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Wind map to show change in vote shares and participation

The Washington Post goes with a wind metaphor to show the change in voting activity between 2016 and 2020. The up and down direction represents change in turnout, and the left and right direction represents change in vote margin.

A fun riff on the classic Viégas and Wattenberg wind map and the Bostock and Carter election map from 2012.

The Post map is based on this and this code.

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Electoral coloring page

If you want to color in your own electoral map at home, The Washington Post provides this blank, printable page. I hear coloring is soothing or something like that. [via @SethBlanchard]

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Fires in the west and climate change

This is some advanced mapping and scrollytelling from the Washington Post. The piece examines climate change in the context of the fires in the western United States.

Starting in the beginning of August, the piece takes you through the timeline of events as your scroll. Maps of temperature, wind, lightning, and fire serve as the backdrop. Berry Creek, California, a mountain town that burned to the ground, provides an anchor to show how large climate shifts can affect the individual.

Well done.

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Reconstructing protests in Minneapolis using hundreds of livestreams

From a distance, it’s difficult to build an understanding of the scale and nature of protests. A soundbite here. A video clip there. So, to show the Minneapolis protests more completely, The Washington Post and The Pudding stitched together 149 livestreams with timestamps and location:

Videos were collected by searching Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch and other sources and then limited to live streams to ensure accuracy of time, location and remove reposted clips. Each video was reviewed and tagged to a location by hand to remove any videos that were replays as live streams. Thumbnails were then extracted using FFMPEG and links to the original videos were provided. Interesting quotes and context setting annotations were called out to provide a deep experience while allowing for quick scanning. Finally links and inline play of the original videos is provided for those wishing to see the videos as streamed.

With so much footage, it’s easy to imagine any sense of narrative getting lost in a bunch of moving pictures. But the layout and structure of this story, organized as a timeline and categorized by area, really help you see what happened over a week.

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Breaking down the $4 trillion bailout

Using a straightforward treemap, The Washington Post looks at where the $4 trillion bailout went. As you scroll, different categories highlight with accompanying text.

This is probably the old man in me, and I know the scrollytelling format works better for mobile and provides more focus, but I find myself missing the large, featured-filled interactives. Those were the days.

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