Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Worker Deaths and Injuries

This chart shows Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad's record for worker deaths and injuries. It cannot stand alone because the abbreviations of BNSF and EOD are not explained. Also, I think the last row of numbers ('Cases with days absent from work') should be set apart from the rest of the information. This should be done because it is not related to the numbers that add up above it. Interactivity and enhancement would not be possible because this is straight data.

North Korea & WikiLeak's Secret Cables

This map from the New York Times (published Dec. 6, 2010) shows the information the NYT found in the secret cables that WikiLeaks recently released. I like how the NYT broke the information down into categories and put each category on its own map. If these maps had been combined, the arrows would have been very distracting. The countries highlighted would have been indistinguishable for different categories. I think the simpleness of different maps tremendously helps what this infographic is trying to portray. Interactivity would have been overwhelming.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Donations Over Time

This graphic published by USA Today on Nov. 30, 2010, presents a lot of information. I have a hard time saying that I like this graphic because it is so busy. I feel like all the different graphs were jigsaw-puzzled together. It would have been better for organization if each graph had a box around it so that the reader could clearly tell when one graph ends and another starts. One thing I do like about this graphic is the graph on the far left. It includes a line for inflation, which is a factor that I think is typically forgotten when money over the years is discussed. Including the inflation line lets the reader compare donations in the past in current money values. I also like that the two bar graphs highlight the highest value in a darker shade of blue.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Robot Weapons

The New York Times published this interactive infographic on Nov. 27, 2010. I like this graphic because the opening shot has every new robot that will be discussed in it and the robot is in the setting it would be used. Each new slide shows an up-close look at each robot and gives an overview of what it was created to do. I think the graphic drawings are detailed enough to give readers the idea of the robot, but not so detailed as to give away the technology. This graphic could have been enhanced if the robots were animated to move like they do.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What's your generation?

This image is the results of a graphic quiz published by USA Today. The reader starts by being told the quiz can predict when the reader was born based on their memories of current, cultural, and sports events, among other things. The reader starts the quiz and is asked eight questions. For example, I was asked what was the most popular movie of the choices given when I was growing up. I was looking for "Titantic" but had to chose "Toy Story" because it was the choice from my childhood (I remember watching "Toy Story" over and over with my brothers when we were little). At the end of the quiz, the graphic above was given. The quiz guesses I was born about 1980, which is wrong by almost a decade.

I think part of what threw this quiz off was 1. my memory and 2. my choices on the quiz. First, my memory proved me wrong because I chose Mary Lou Retton as the first athlete I remember. I thought she was the gymnast from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics who was injured (who I now know is Kerri Strug). That threw off the results because she was at the 1984 Olympics and I wasn't even born yet! Second, my choices didn't always allow me to answer correctly. When I was asked what TV show was popular when I was in high school, I wasn't given a TV show that was popular when I was in high school. The graphic at the end of the quiz lists "American Idol" and "The O.C.", which I would have chosen if I had been given those as choices. Instead, I had to choose "The Real World" because it was the most recent TV show offered. This made it seem to the quiz that I was in high school in the early 1990s. These elements changed the outcome of the quiz and made it wrong. But in the end, I found it interesting and will pass it along to my family and friends to see if they have better results than I do.

This graphic is neat because I didn't understand what the images on the top of the graph meant. When I ran my cursor over it, an explanation of that generation popped up and the image made sense. The red line that goes down the graph is not explained - and I think it could use an explanation. When the red dots are clicked on (which are the answers I chose), a window pops up with a video or audio file about the item and a quick paragraph. I like how this results graphic is interactive but there are parts that can be improved within the quiz and the graph.

Russian Jury System

The New York Times published this graph on Nov. 15, 2010 about the Russian jury system. I think the circle graph does a good job of showing the "slim chance" of a person getting a jury trial. It shows the smallness of the chance and I can't think of another graph form that would be as effective. I think the line graph does a good job of showing the chance for acquittal in a jury trial. It makes it obvious that a person would hope for a jury trial. But, I think this graph has the opportunity to confuse people because people are used to seeing percentages out of 100%. If the reader does not pay close attention to the values on the y-axis, they might think it's out of 100%, and not 25%. This could give the reader a confused view.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Restrictions on Advertising

On Nov. 14, 2010, The New York Times published this map of the world. This map gives several layers of information. The most noticeable one is the color-scaling that lets the reader use the legend to see how much tobacco ads are restricted in that country. The next layer of information is how much tobacco use has changed in 10 years. The last layer of information separates internet advertising from other types and lets readers see that the countries outline in black ban internet advertising.

The story this map accompanies is about how a global initiative is trying to further restrict tobacco advertising. I think making the map show what countries are a part of the initiative would either enhance it or make it interactive.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

China's Major Metropolitans

World News with Diane Sawyer (ABC) created this interactive graphic map to show readers China's 10 "most vibrant and fastest growing cities." I like this map because the reader can choose to see the information about an individual city (population, major industries, unique background story) or see the cities in relation to each other and that area of the world. It's also nice that they use the familiar Google maps as well. The major problem I find with this graphic is that I can only 9 cities that are highlighted. I even had my friend count and he found 9 cities as well. I'm not sure if one isn't showing on my computer, but I can't find it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Leading Scientist Predictions

The New York Times put together this interactive feature graphic about where leading scientists think their fields will be headed over the next 10 years. Each page has a photo of the scientist, an audio clip and a quote from the scientist, and then some background information about their quote. The pictures of the other scientists serve as links and when the mouse is rolled over them the scientist's name, field and a quick quote from them pops up. This is meant to intrigue the reader and make them click on the next prediction.

I like this graphic feature because it is a stand alone story that combines a few different media forms. The pop-up feature allows the reader to get a quick idea of what the scientist thinks so not a lot of time is needed to get all the information from the story. I think for the purpose and goal of this story, it is as enhanced and interactive as it needs to be.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


This interactive graphic by the AP allows the reader an in-depth look at the unemployment rates across the United States. The tabs across the top of the graphic allow the reader to look at rates by county, state, industry sector, and as a historic timeline. In the county and state view, by rolling the mouse over the map, it is possible to see each county's and state's statistics compared to the national statistics. The industry sector allows the reader to see three months (Oct. '09, Sept. '10, Oct. '10) of unemployment rates for each industry.

I like this graphic because of the variety of ways available to analyze the information. The use of different shades of blues creates a non-busy look and lets the reader easily see the gravity of the unemployment in an area or time. I like that it also gives perspective to these unemployment rates by going back to the 1980's in the timeline to show those rates. This graphic is well-done.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Saudi Arabia - Yemen Border

I liked this story published by the New York Times on Oct. 26, 2010, because it reminds me of the problem my home state of Texas is having with Mexican residents illegally crossing the border. This story described the problem of Yemen residents crossing into Saudi Arabia illegally, bringing drugs and allowing Al Qaeda fighters to go back and forth.

This map is useful because it shows more than just the two countries involved. Seeing more of the area lets the reader put the location on their mental global map. Using a lighter color to denote Saudi Arabia and Yemen helps bring the reader's attention to the countries. This map would be more informative if there were symbols signifying what the geography of the area is (ex: mountains versus desert) and what kind of barriers are in the way (ex: fences versus nothing).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Airport Delays

This is a neat interactive graphic done by USA Today Travel. It shows the airport delays around North America. I think this graphic is useful if you are flying with connecting flights. It lets you easily check all the airports you are going to stop at to see if you will encounter any difficulties. This graphic lets you click on the airport's dot and see on a scale how far behind the scheduled time flights are arriving or departing. It's also nice that the reader can choose the airport they use most regularly and have its conditions pop up at the top of map when they return to the map for later use.

There is a big weakness in this map: the legend. The legend is a small white box in the top right corner that isn't immediately seen when the reader looks at the map. The mouse has to be on top of the legend box to see the options. Until the reader sees the legend box, they are confused as to what the different colors and shapes representing the airports mean. If I was to re-do this map, I would make the legend a permanently open box within the map.

Monday, October 25, 2010

12 People You'll Meet on Twitter

It's funny and it's true. This graphic is published by Heliade.net and describes the types of people a Twitter user will find while tweeting. This is a strong graphic because the example tweets are a different color than the background of the graphic. Also, the example tweets show up like they do on Twitter, including the profile picture. The clever profile pictures for the example tweets help portray the emotions of the tweets. This graphic is very true to form for Twitter, which makes the graphic more enjoyable. I think this graphic is effective in its plain and simple form. Interactivity would not have added much to it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Marcellus Shale Reserves

This chart, published by Pittsburgh Live on Oct. 19, 2010, has several good elements and a few that I don't particularly like. I like that the number of wells each company owns is paired with how much natural gas they produce. It gives perspective on how much gas a well can pump and if the pumps are efficient compared to others. The contrasting colors also help distinguish between the bars of information. I also like that the companies are listed from highest producers to lowest.

I don't like that this graphic could not stand on its own. There is no explanation about how the Marcellus shale reserves are different for pumping natural gas than regular wells. Shale reserves are a relatively new way of pumping gas so this graphic would be much stronger if that information was given to the reader. Also, this graphic is not interactive. A map with locations and owners of the wells would have helped the reader understand where the Marcellus shale reserves are located in Pennsylvania.

Friday, October 15, 2010

TEA Ratings

This interactive map, published by the Dallas Morning News, gives the Texas Education Agency's school district ratings in an understandable format. It is possible to click on the individual district's marker to get its enrollment numbers, percentage of low-income students, and ranking over the last five years. From the main map, it's possible to use the drop-down menu to choose a school district to see the same statistics, as well as address, for each school within the district.

The interactivity of this map makes it interesting. I enjoyed checking the statistics of the schools I attended and the one my brother is currently attending. I think the only way to enhance this graphic would be to add a picture of the each school. The colors that denote the different ranks is strong and the use of Google Maps is a familiar format to readers.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chilean Miners Rescue Efforts

This interactive diagram was used by CNN to track the story of the Chilean miners who got trapped in the mine August 5, 2010, and were rescued by October 13, 2010. As the men were rescued, their photos transferred from "Trapped," on the sidebar on the left, to "Rescued" on the same sidebar. Their photos can also be clicked on to get their name and a few facts about them. The red squares with white dots pop up a picture, video and/or text box of information when they are clicked on. It tries to give a picture or video so the reader can get a visual of what the real life refuge chamber looks like. I think the building height comparison is useful too because it shows just how far the men were underground. The count-up of days spent underground also increased as time went on.

This graphic gives a lot of information which helps the non-miner reader better understand the situation. This is nothing I would change about this graphic because there are so many interactive elements in it. The more time a reader spends on this graphic, the more they learn.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Recycling in Columbia

Columbia, MO, is a community that enjoys challenging itself to be as environmentally friendly as possible - or so it seems to me, as an outsider from Texas. I think this graphic, published on Oct. 6, by the Columbia Missourian, shows the community's efforts well. The city has given residents vouchers to pick up recycling bags from local stores to promote recycling. I like that this graphic shows two years of information to show the rise in recycling. I also like the note that explains the spike in recycling. I think it would be helpful if the "Weeks" part of the graphic on the x-axis was labeled to let the readers know the weeks start at the beginning of the calendar or school year. This is a university town so many people think of the year as the school year. A weakness of this graphic is that it is all shades of gray. I would have liked to see some different colors for the data lines so they are better distinguished from the background and labels. It would have been difficult to make this basic informational graphic more enhanced or interactive.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NYC Subway Construction

This aerial view of 2nd Avenue in New York was published on the New York Times website in Oct. 4, 2010. The story is about how construction on a new subway line is causing economic troubles in the neighborhood. The graphic shows what areas are blocked, what stores have recently closed, where business has declined, and where business is steady. This graphic allows the reader to decide if the barriers are causing the effects on the business or if it happens to be the economy overall. Also, I like knowing what the barriers are. Another strong element is the drawing of all the buildings in that area so the reader can tell it is a busy, crowded part of New York City.

This graphic would be enhanced if it was interactive. The reader could click on the building and a street view photo of the building could pop up. This would give readers an idea of what the barriers actually look like instead of imagining for themselves in their heads.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

World's First Sustainable City

The world's first carbon-neutral city is being built outside Abu Dhabi. This diagram
by the New York Times on Sept. 25, 2010 gives a detailed look that the planned city. I think it's a strong graphic for several reasons. I like that the dominant view is a 3D angle and the vertical view is given below. I also like that there is a cross-section of the buildings to explain what the Headquarters will look like and how the ventilation system will work. The colors indicating what will be ready in the fall and what is under construction gives a good idea of what is happening now. The maps in the top corner are helpful to put this place on the map.

This diagram would be even cooler and enhanced if it was made interactive by clicking on the parts of the city that are under construction and a real-life photo would pop up. It would give readers a better idea of what the city is turning out to look like.

Friday, October 1, 2010

USA Today published this TV guide on Oct. 1, 2010. This graphic is interactive. When the reader's arrow scrolls over a day's box, a text box pops up with a quick cliffhanger summary of the episode. No episode is featured twice so if the reader ever wondered what a show was about, they could get a glance at a summary easily. Other information that is also provided is what station the show is on and the time is plays. A weakness of this calendar is that it is almost monochromatic. It would be more interesting to look at if the text was a different color from the background of the squares. I do like that the day's date is highlighted in red.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

5 Diagrams

"Wasp preys on emerald ash borer larvae," Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sept. 22, 2010.

This diagram tells the reader what the problem is and one solution that is being tested. I think all the words overwhelm the diagram but they are necessary because the diagram alone would not tell the full story. The numbers help guide the reader through the diagram. Also, I think the illustration of the ash tree is weak. The reader has to find the label that says "Ash bark" to understand that the gray stripe is bark. The general label and description of the living wood is the only thing that tips the reader off that that is wood. I think a strong element of this diagram is the real-life photo of what the wood looks like after the larvae eats it. I think it needs a label so that someone unfamiliar with trees would not have to guess what it is. This diagram could be made interactive by having the reader click on the wasp to start the process and having an explanation pop up. By clicking on the wasp again, the next step and explanation would appear, and so on and so forth. If that change was made, the diagram would become an animation, not a diagram.

"The Secrets of a Passive House," New York Times, Sept. 25, 2010.

This is a strong diagram because of all the different elements it shows. It focuses on the heating and cooling of the house. It could have made this graphic very detailed and confused. Instead, the diagram is made stronger because it gives the main components of a "passive house." By showing close-ups of parts of the house, it lets the reader know what they are looking at, where it is located, and how it works. This would have been difficult to make the diagram interactive. One way to do with would have been to make a "hot spot" where each of the close-ups are so the reader could click on that, and then have the explanation pop up. This diagrams stands alone well because of the way the information is explained.

"Arch Staining," St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

This graphic stands alone and explains the staining that is happening to the St. Louis Arch. this graphic is strong because the colors are variety enough that it is easy to tell the difference in the degrees of severity. Also, the larger image lets the reader get a closer look at the staining while the smaller image shows what is happening to the other side. This is a good idea because the Arch is a 3D object so one image is not going to be descriptive enough. I think it would be difficult to make this graphic interactive.

"Rain, sun spawn nature's artwork," USA TODAY.

This is a strong interactive graphic, although I could not get more than one image of it. When the reader puts their cursor over the image of the cloud on the left, a rainbow appears. When the cursor is scrolls over the image on the right, a beam of light is shined into the water droplet which emits a rainbow out the other side. The information on the right of the images also changes. This graphic explains how a rainbow is made. The interactivity makes the process understandable to a reader who has not studied rainbows before. If this graphic had been larger, it would have been stronger. This graphic can almost stand alone. Part of the article explains that a person needs to have the sun behind them to see the rainbow. This is not totally explained in the graphic, but could be if the design had made that evident.

"MU football lineup v. Miami of Ohio," Columbia Missourian, Sept. 24, 2010.

This is a well-made graphic because of the amount of information included in it. I like that it shows how the players line up by position and saying who plays that position for the team and their number. It's nice that the reader doesn't have to refer to a player roster to find out who plays that position. The colors work well here because they correspond with the team colors and are easily distinguishable. The key for offense and defense is nice because it explains the abbreviations. This diagram could have been made interactive if the reader could scroll over the name of the player and their picture would pop up. This graphic stands alone well.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The Senate voted on Sept. 21, 2010, on whether or not to repeal the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The Senate rejected it, and a main factor in it's rejection is that no Republicans voted to repeal it.

This is a strong graphic because the map shows exactly how each state senator voted. It also gives a legend that tells the reader the exact number of how many senators voted which way.

There is also a bar chart above the map (shown above) that gave another view of how many senators from each party voted in a certain way. It makes it visually evident that Democrats wanted to repeal the policy while Republicans did not.

Below both of these graphics is a list that specifically states how each senator, with their state listed, voted.

All this information in different formats allows the reader to analyze how their state senator voted and how that compares to the rest of the country. This is a good graphic because of all the different presentations. It would be stronger if the specific list could be combined with the map by letting the reader scroll over or click on the state and see how both senators voted.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The New York Times published this map about where coral is in danger on Sept. 20, 2010. The coral gets rid of its color in order to try to survive. The only other time this has been known to happen was in 1998, the hottest year on record. Scientists say that there are signs that this year could be worse than that year.

This graphic is strong because the colors follow what people naturally perceive. People automatically interpret the darkest colors to be the most serious condition and in this map, the brown notes the areas that are in the most danger. The world map is also one that is familiar to most people.

The map could be enhanced and interactive if readers were able to click on the endangered areas of the ocean. The name of that part of the ocean, the average temperature in that area, and the top temperature the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts for that area could appear next to where the reader clicked.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ethnic Mapping

New York City

San Antonio

Fast Company published these and other images of cities on Sept. 20, 2010. Eric Fischer made maps of the top 40 cities in the United States that are modeled after Bill Rankin's map of Chicago. Each dot represents 25 people and each color represents a different race: "White is pink; Black is blue; Hispanic is orange, and Asian is green." I chose the two cities above to show the stark differences in America. In New York City, there are definite boundaries with all the people compacted together. San Anthonio has a greater population of Hispanics towards the city center but otherwise it is a pretty even spread between Whites and Hispanics.

I think these graphics are strong because it lets the reader make their own inferences about the city's integration or segregation - all the graphic does is present the information. I would enhance this graphic by including the total population of the city, as well as the population breakdown of each race. A way to make this graphic interactive would be to let readers choose to compare cities side by side.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Civilian space travel - sign me up!

On Sept. 15, 2010, The New York Times published an article about Boeing's announcement that they are going to start sending civilians into space and how that will affect NASA. The article included this graphic from Boeing.

I like this graphic diagram because it gives the details of the cabin without being too over complicated and includes another picture of what the cabin will look like from the outside. The author could have left the graphic out but the visual lets the reader have a better understanding of what Boeing is going to be making. The difference in colors helps distinguish between the different parts, which is helpful. The black background also makes the parts of the cross section easier on the eyes.

A way to enhance this graphic would have been to let the reader click on different parts to see what they do or click on the people to see how much space they will have in the cabin. That would also make the diagram interactive, which would involve readers more.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

5 Maps

"Karzai Divides Afghanistan in Reaching Out to Taliban," Wall Street Journal, Sept. 10, 2010.

This interactive map is neat because of how it is possible to view each ethnic group. The main view lets the reader see all the ethnic groups together. The instructions are unclear as to whether the reader clicks on the map or the legend next to the map to see the specific information about each group. That is something that could be improved. But, once that function is figured out, the provinces can be highlighted one by one and gives insight into why politics in Afghanistan are so complicated. The choice to show provinces is left up to the reader which lets them decide if they want to see how ethnic groups share provinces. It would also be helpful to know why part of the country is left white. This map can stand alone because it includes a background paragraph, instructions for use, and detailed information.

"World Trade Center: New site takes shape after many twists and turns," AP via msnbc.com, Sept. 11, 2010.

This graphic gives a lot of information in a small space. It is a graphic that the more time a reader spends with it, the more information they will gain from it. The aerial view lets the reader place where the World Trade Center site is in relation to the rest of the island. The 3D view of the site lets the reader have perspective on the placement of the buildings and their sizes relative to each other. When the reader scrolls their mouse over the buildings, it tells them what the building will be. The "Height Comparison" graphic allow the reader to see how architecture has progressed over the years. When the readers scroll their mouse over those buildings, a text box pops up with information about the height of the building and when it was the tallest in the world.

The tabs on the graphic also let the reader see a photograph of how the construction of these buildings is coming at the WTC site. It provides a real-world picture so people can gauge for themselves how well the progress is coming.

"ABC Coverage Map for September 11," ABC News, Sept. 11, 2010

College game days are exciting times if you live in the college town. If you're an alum and live far away, the best option you have is to either travel to the game or watch it on TV. Most alums choose the second option. This map lets a viewer quickly figure out if they will be able to watch the game they want to. The easy color coding with a clear legend gives the information without the viewer having to question if they will be able to see the game or not. This map can stand alone with the information provided. This graphic could have been enhanced by making it interactive. For example, a viewer could click on their state, which would zoom in on the state and the viewer could choose their town from there. It would give them the local time of the game and what channel to find the game.

"House Race Ratings," New York Times, Sept. 10, 2010.

This is another map where the more time spent with it, the more information it will reveal. Readers can click on different areas of the map and figure out what district it is, which political wing they favor, the date of the primary, and the incumbent's name. By clicking on the link, district-personalized information is available. The color of the district also gives the political wing information. At the bottom of the map (not pictured) is a categorized list grouping districts by which political direction they lean. One of the options on the left sidebar lets readers choose to look at the Senate's midterm elections race. The other options on the left sidebar gives readers more information about the midterm elections. The bar graph across the top of the map makes it visual to see exactly how the political parties stack up against each other. I think that all the interactivity of this map is a strength and lends to the usefulness of the map. It would be hard to enhance this graphic further but this map can stand alone.

"Location of Fatal Shooting in Columbia," Columbia Missourian, Sept. 6, 2010.

The map shows the readers exactly where the shooting happened on Labor Day 2010. I actually was the reporter for KOMU 8 on this story. From personal experience, this map perfectly notes where the apartment was location, even down to the fact that it was not place perfectly on the cul-de-sac. I thinks a weakness of this map is that it does not make Old 63 a bolder line to denote that it is a bigger road. A strength is that the lake and park are placed on the map to give readers a familiar reference. This map could have been made interactive by having the red box be a hot spot that pops up a text box with information about the shooting. This graphic cannot stand on its own because it does not tell the story of the shooting.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Creationism v. Evolution... Or Together?

Francis Collins, a geneticist, was appointed by President Obama to be the Director of the National Institutes of Health. He cleared his Senate confirmation hearings without a problem, but then his fellow scientists began to question the President's choice. The details are in Peter J. Boyer's article titled, "The Covenant," published in The New Yorker on Sept. 6, 2010. The basic idea is that Collins is a Christian, which is unusual among scientists. Collins tries to combine the idea that a divine power created humans and evolution. As the sentence beneath the graphic states, Obama wants "harmony between science and religion" so Collins' ideals matched the President's.

I think this graphic is strong because it visually represents the effort it will take to combine these two ideas. It will be literally an uphill battle to make these two different schools of thought see "eye-to-eye," as the popular phrase says. The overwhelming blackness from the hill gives the reader a sense of doom, eluding to the idea that this is an almost impossible task.

A weakness of this graphic is that Collins is represented so small that it takes a minute to figure out that that is who is represented. Collins is not a totally recognizable public figure, but Boyer did describe what he looks like in the article so a bigger Collins would have worked. The only hint that lets the reader figure out it is Collins at the top of the hill is the white scientist's coat. At the same time, the small stature of Collins could be representing that Collins is a small part of this big debate, that is represented by the massive black hill.

This graphic does not give away more information the longer the reader examines it, so it's not very complex. The way to make it interactive would be for the reader to be able to click on each set of symbols (the Jesus walking the cross up the hill, Collins, and the evolving humans) to read quotes from each side of the debate.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Self-Embedding Objects

In this CNN story (Sept. 9, 2010) on their "the chart" blog, the subject of the matter teenagers embedding foreign objects into their bodies.

This graphic above originally caught my attention because I couldn't figure out what the squiggly lines in the elbow were. Turns out, this 17-year-old's elbow has "staples (shown by straight arrows), an unfolded paper clip (curved arrow), and graphite fragments (arrowheads)." I think a strength of this graphic is that it uses the actual x-ray. If the graphic illustrator decided instead to make a popularity chart of embedded objects, I would find it interesting but this brings the issue home. It lets the reader see how far the objects are pushed into the body and mentally envision putting those objects in their own arm. Using different arrows to indicate different objects is strong too. A legend near the graphic would have been helpful, instead of having to read through the article to find the key. A weakness of this graphic is that the arrows are a color that's involved in the graphic. If the arrows are meant to blend in, that's one thing. But a quick glance might lead the reader to believe the arrows are in the arm. Arrows of a different color than white would be helpful because it would be obvious that it's not a part of the x-ray.

There is no option for interactivity or enhancement of this graphic. It is meant to be a demonstrative graphic.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

5 Charts

"'Birth Tourism' a Tiny Portion of Immigrant Babies," ABC News, Sept. 3, 2010

This graphic has the potential to be a stand-alone image. A strength is that the pie chart shows the information well by showing the parts of the whole. I think the main weakness is that the graphic does not say if the illegal immigrants are just from Latin America as the story suggests or if the immigrants are from all over the world. Another weakness is in the colors of the pie chart. The light red that categorizes all immigrants could give the reader the idea that all those people are in the United States illegally. To enhance the story, I would give the legal immigrants a different shade of red or I could change the color totally since red usually gives off a "warning" vibe.

"Four Job Market Trends We WON'T Be Celebrating This Labor Day," The Huffington Post, Sept. 5, 2010

A strength of the first chart titled "Productivity and Median Compensation Growth" allows the readers to understand that while people are paid less, their employers are expecting more work out of them. It makes the reader question what is fair about that result?

The second chart titled "Median Real Income for Working-Age Households" has a weakness that it only gives one level of information. It's not possible to get more information from it because only one data set is presented.

The third chart titled "Wage Growth and Unemployment Rate" is strong because it lets the reader interpret something from the data. They can conclude that the people who kept their job aren't as lucky as some people think they are because they might have experienced a wage cut.

The fourth chart titled "Nominal Weekly Earnings Growth for Full-Time Workers" is weak because x-axis is confusing. The years are listed with the most present year first, which is not the typical way of thinking about chronology.

A strength of all these graphics is that it shows a history of many years. It allows the reader to be sure it's not just a short trend portrayed in the graph. Each graphic has the right kind of chart to portray the information it wants to. The two to three sentences under the chart helps make it more understandable too. If more of the information could be combined onto two or three charts, the reader would probably spend more time on them instead of clicking "next" to see each chart individually. These graphics need the story to explain why the charts are important. These charts obviously got a reaction out of readers because there are 234 comments.

"USA TODAY Snapshots," USA TODAY, Sept. 4, 2010 (Under the "Life" tab)

This graphic stands alone well and uses the bar chart correctly. The bar chart gives the information in an easily understood way that quickly lets the reader get the message. The hammock gives the graph a nice visual touch that makes it more eye-catching. It also makes the graphic look like a vacation. The illustrator also makes the week's layout easily understood because it starts with Sunday. Conveniently, it makes the hammock easily hangable! A weakness is that there is only one side to the information. A graphic should let you look at it and get more information from it the longer you examine it. To enhance this story, I would have tried to include what people like to do for their vacation or relaxation time.

"Electronic recyclable rates gain in 2010," Columbia Missourian, Sept. 2, 2010

This graphic has the potential to stand alone; it needs a small text box that explains that they have almost reached the last year's numbers in two collections. If the reader examined the graph long enough, they would probably be able to deduce that information. The bar chart works well here because it makes it easy for the reader to compare the quantities of items collected over the last two years. A strength is the dual colored bars which makes the years easily distinguishable. A weakness is that the light bars for 2009 is difficult to see against the white background. This is a pretty straight forward facts story so I do not think it needs much enhancing.

"U.S. Jobs Lost in August, but Fewer Than Expected," New York Times, Sept. 3, 2010

The first graphic titled "Jobs" is strong visually in showing how the number of jobs changed. It could be stronger in marking the time as it passes - is each individual bar a quarter of the year? Is it every two months? It's left up to the reader to wonder, which distracts them from the data presented.

The second graphic titled "Private" lets the chart show how the private sector is fairing better than the the general sector.

The third graphic titled "Rate" gives a better view that the job market is doing better than it did two years ago, even though the individual "Jobs" and "Private" charts do not exactly give the reader that impression. This graphic would have been stronger if more than three years were shown.

These are the right kind of charts to use to present this information. To enhance this story, it would have been helpful if the first and second charts could be combined so they could be compared side by side. The graphs could stand alone if there was a text box letting the reader know that new statistics had been released.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Economic Report

"Companies add 67K workers, but jobless rate rises," AP via Yahoo! News, Sept. 3, 2010

I found this graphic on Sept. 3, 2010, on Yahoo! News. It is an AP story about the latest report on the economy. I think this is a strong graphic. From the colored arrows, it is clear that the economy is not growing as fast as people wish to think it is. The statistics give the graphic hard facts for the reader to decide how bad they think the decline or good the rise is. The confusing part is that the graphic says that the unemployment rate is unchanged, but the title of the story says that the jobless rate rises.

The graphic is interactive because the reader can click on the arrows for more information on that specific topic. The graphic could be enhanced with information if it told you the percentage was a rate change over what specific time period.

I know the main news from this economic report was about the jobs but this graphic does a good job of relating that information to other economic markers.